Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Probably not. 

Great piece by Jim Jump if you are following the test-optional movement. A highlight:

There are, of course, some global reasons why test-optional policies will not go away. One is the decision by the University of California and Cal State systems to no longer use test scores in their admission processes. As a result, colleges that recruit heavily in California will have a hard time reinstating test score requirements. But students outside California may also rebel against colleges that return to requiring test scores. The Ivies may be able to get away with it, but two years ago, when the pandemic accelerated the number of colleges going the test-optional route, an admissions dean friend postulated that colleges farther down the food chain may find that students may simply refuse to apply to colleges that aren’t test optional.

Read it here in full!

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Sal Khan: Test-Optional College Admissions Adds Ambiguity and is Bad for Students

Sal Khan: Test-Optional College Admissions Adds Ambiguity and is Bad for Students

Interesting read if you are following the test-optional movement and related debates. Sal Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, a non-profit that partners with the College Board. Read the interview here

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Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional

Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional

And so it begins…

MIT is no longer test-optional.

Will other schools follow in the name of transparency (because—let’s be honest—although test-optional policies do have merit at some institutions, they do not increase transparency around the admissions process)?

After careful consideration, we have decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles. Our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT. We believe a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy. In the post below —  and in a separate conversation with MIT News today —  I explain more⁠ about how we think this decision helps us advance our mission. 

Some popular schools that have also rolled back COVID-era test-optional policies include UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, New College of Florida, FSU, UCF, and USF (all State University System of Florida). 

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

PSAT scores are back this week. If you’re a high school junior, this moment marks the start of SAT and ACT prep season. (That is, if you haven’t started already!) Read Applerouth’s handy guide to understanding your PSAT scores and what to do next as you prepare for the SAT or ACT.

The Will to Test in a Test-Optional Era. Hundreds of colleges have suspended their ACT and SAT requirements. Many students won’t let them go… (but for good reason…not all TO is created equal). 

According to an updated list released by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), more than 1,815 colleges and universities now practice test-optional or test-blind admissions, an all-time high. The list includes nearly all of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities. At least 1,400 institutions have already extended those policies at least through the fall 2023 admissions cycle. Among the schools that will not require ACT or SAT tests from current high school juniors are well-known private institutions, such as Amherst, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, and Tufts. In addition, many public university systems including those in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington will remain test-optional or test-blind.

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Test Blind Colleges

Test Blind Colleges

Test optional and test blind are two very different things!

Test optional means if students send scores with their application, those scores will be used in the evaluation of their application.

Test blind (or what Cornell calls score free) means students may not submit scores nor will scores be used in the evaluation of files.

Colleges and universities that are currently test blind:

University of California System
California State System
Cal Poly (Pomona and Slo)
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
Catholic University
Cornell University (CALS, AAP, Dyson, Hotel)
Dickinson College
Hampshire College
Reed College
San Diego State (SDSU)
Washington State University

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ACT Announces “Section Retesting” & Other Changes

From Compass Education Group:

“ACT has a reputation for stodginess. Its eponymous test hasn’t had any substantial changes since 1989. Today, ACT just blew up that reputation. It announced superscore reporting, online testing on national test dates, and most radically, section retesting. The changes would go into effect starting in September 2020. EdWeek has been first to share reactions and ACT has provided a detailed FAQ, but a wide range of questions remain unanswered and we will have to wait and see how colleges respond.”

Head to the Compass website for their full (and very informative) take!


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SAT/ACT Writing Section? Probably Not Needed!

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

Fellow IECA member Cigus Vanni is the master of lists. He created many that he shares with fellow IEC’s, and one sheds light on that almost no colleges continue to require or recommend the writing portion of the SAT or ACT. The biggest exception is the UC system, which still requires it.

Here’s his list as of 6/27:

Abilene Christian University (TX) – recommend

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (NY) – recommend

Augsburg College (MN) – recommend (note: Augsburg is a test-optional school)

Berry College (GA) – require ACT, neither require nor recommend SAT

College of Charleston (SC) – recommend

Duke University (NC) – recommend

 Eastern Illinois University – recommend ACT; neither require nor recommend SAT

Manhattan College (NY) – recommend; used for placement in writing courses, not for admission to school

Martin Luther College (MN) – require ACT, neither require nor recommend SAT

Michigan State University – recommend

Montana State University – recommend; used for placement in writing courses, not for admission to school

Oregon State University – recommend SAT; neither require nor recommend ACT

Rhode Island College – require ACT, neither require nor recommend SAT

Saint Anselm College (NH) – recommend (note: Saint Anselm is a test optional school)

Saint Norbert College (WI) – recommend

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania – recommend

Soka University of America (CA) – require

State University of New York at Buffalo – recommend

Texas State University – recommend ACT

United States Military Academy (NY) – require

University of California Berkeley – require

University of California Davis – require

University of California Irvine – require

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) – require

University of California Merced – require

University of California Riverside – require

University of California San Diego – require

University of California Santa Barbara – require

University of California Santa Cruz – require

University of Evansville (IN) – require (note: Evansville is a test optional school)

University of Mary Hardin Baylor (TX) – require

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – recommend

University of Montana – recommend

University of Montana Western – require ACT, recommend SAT

VanderCook College of Music (IL) – require

Webb Institute of Naval Architecture (NY) – recommend


NOTE:  All information current with the updating of this list on June 26, 2019.  Be sure to check with each college to which you apply before you register for any standardized test as requirements can change.

Thank you, Cigus!



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The 5 Biggest Differences Between the SAT and ACT Explained


Test prep is not really my thing, but it plays a big role in the college admissions process for many students. That said, be on the lookout for some testing-related guest posts in the coming months! The article below is by Nicholas LaPoma, the owner of Long Island-based Curvebreakers Test Prep.

1. Timing

Possibly the most important difference between the two tests is timing. In short, you get less time per question on the ACT. Check this out:

As you can see, you get much less time to complete any one question on the ACT. One of the most important examples is on the Reading tests. On the SAT you get 13 minutes per passage, on the ACT you get 8 minutes 45 seconds per passage. That is a huge difference! So, if you struggle with timing, the SAT is likely for you.

2. Question Distribution

The SAT and ACT have a vastly different distribution of questions in terms of subject matter. This is especially true in the Math section of the tests, as the ACT has a large amount of Geometry and Trigonometry questions and the SAT does not. The SAT is more Algebra focused.

Further, the ACT is considered an achievement test (What you learned) whereas the SAT is often considered to be a trickier, more aptitude based test (based on skills).  If you hate Algebra, and like straightforward word problems, the ACT Might be for you.

3. No-Calculator Math

A similar but important consideration is how one will handle no-calculator Math. Many students are used to punching every question and operation into their calculator and are totally reliant upon the calculator for basic multiplication and division. These students will struggle on the no-calculator portion of the SAT, as you may have to do long division. Some schools do not allow students to use calculators until a certain grade level – those students will be better equipped to tackle this section.  If you really struggle with no-calc, the ACT might be for you.

4. Science Section

As you probably know, the ACT contains a science-based section. This is actually a reading / chart reading / graph reading task, so it often correlates well with reading score. That means that the ACT is mostly based on reading skill, whereas the SAT is mostly based on Math skill.

As indicated above, the Science section actually makes the ACT a more reading based exam, where the SAT is a more math based exam.

5. Question Difficulty

The SAT is typically considered an aptitude test. It is based on your skills in each area that is tested. The acronym SAT initially stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, proving the point. The SAT is unable to move away from its roots and become a totally achievement based exam, so many students “feel” that the questions are more tricky or difficult. If you like more straightforward questions, the ACT may be a better test for you. We find little difference when preparing students for the exams, but some students in particular find one test more appealing than the other for this reason.


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Updated SAT Subject Test Policies

From Compass, updated SAT Subject test (SAT II) requirements and recommendations for the Class of 2018. Not many changes here, but worth reviewing now as it is time to sign up for May and June exams, and think ahead as you create your testing plan. Thanks, Compass!