Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Researchers examine whether SAT scores truly represent student abilities

By Olivia Bernard

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As high school seniors are sending out their transcripts and SAT scores to colleges, and others still are scrambling to fit the test into their schedules, researchers are questioning whether SAT scores will represent a student’s academic ability in college.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota examined the relationship between SAT scores and freshman year grades in response to the debate over the use of standardized testing as a prediction of a student’s success in college. The study titled , “The Role of Socioeconomic Status in SAT-Grade Relationships and in College Admissions Decisions,” concluded that higher SAT scores do correlate to higher grades in the freshman year of college.
The research article, which was done in response to that SAT scores are affected by a participants’ socioeconomic status, took into account the SAT scores, high school GPAs, first-year GPAs and socioeconomic status of over 100,000 students from 110 universities and colleges.

It stated that “the SAT retains the vast majority of its weight in predicting subsequent college grades when high school GPA and [socioeconomic status] are controlled.”

The report discussed that students of low socioeconomic status may simply not be applying to colleges, rather than the argument that the SATs are disadvantageous to them.

An increasing number of colleges are either eliminating the requirement for SAT scores on the applications to their institutions or they are making that section optional, according to a Los Angeles Times article on SAT scores.

Several five-college schools have joined the trend, including Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Hampshire College.

Mount Holyoke College’s website said that they have made the SATs an optional part of their application because the tests do not “measure the range of intellectual and motivational qualities that our educational environment requires.”

However, many applicants still choose to send their scores.  About 87 percent of students included their SAT scores on their applications to Hampshire College, according to their website.

However, there is no discussion about eliminating the SAT requirement from the application to the University of Massachusetts.

Associate Director of News and Media Relations Daniel Fitzgibbons explained in an email interview that although UMass uses SAT scores in the application process, the transcript of the prospective student is the most important part of the application

“Standardized tests are one part of the selection process.  They are important, but high test scores will not overwhelm a poor academic record,” he said. “The best predictor … is their performance in high school.  Adding standardized testing will help increase how well we can predict a student’s performance.”

This year’s freshmen class’, average SAT score was 1197, an 8 point improvement from the class entering in 2011 and a 30 point improvement from the class entering in 2010.  Admissions at UMass only take the critical reading score and the math score on the SAT into consideration, choosing to disregard the writing portion.  The average GPA was 3.66, a .02 point increase, according to a UMass press release.

While the report addresses the concern of socioeconomic status on a student’s SAT scores, some students argue that the SATs should not be a requirement, but for different reasons.

UMass junior Nikki Henderson said that she did not think that universities should not look at SAT scores when considering a student for college. She said that sometimes students may have a bad day or may be sick, so it should not count towards college.

Henderson took the SATs twice and said that her score increased.

Olivia Bernard can be reached at [email protected].

 

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