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More universities going “test-optional”

George Washington University no longer requires students to submit Scholastic Admissions Test or American College Test scores as part of its admissions process starting this semester.

Instead, students applying for admissions can choose to submit test scores or opt out in having their scores considered if they feel the scores do not accurately reflect their ability to do college work.

Therefore, admissions decisions are based on the student’s high school grades and essays.

The move, which was announced by university officials over the summer after a task force studied the issue, comes at a time when many other colleges and universities are leaning toward “test-optional” as well.

Hampshire College’s President Jonathan Lash, wrote for the “The Huffington Post” about his college’s move to reject using these test scores altogether.

“Last year Hampshire College decided not to accept SAT/ACT scores from high school applicants seeking admission. That got us kicked off the rankings, disqualified us, per U.S. News rankings criteria. That’s OK with us,” Lash wrote. “If we reduce education to the outcomes of a test, the only incentive for schools and students to innovate is in the form of improving test-taking and scores.”

After the change, diversity of Hampshire College’s incoming class increased and minority enrollment went up to 31 percent from just 21 percent last semester.

But can the same happen at CUNY? Chelsea Lavington, associate director of Admissions at Queens College, is not so sure it would adopt this precedent.

“Entrance exams are just one component of the admissions process. We look at all of the candidate’s qualities. And decisions for admissions come from a higher power. Graduate testing is a little trickier too because those are more subject-based, like the subject-tests [for undergraduates] and decisions for testing requirements come from a higher power in CUNY,” Lavington said.

Gabriela Kobylska, a junior, is not enthusiastic about the movement to eliminate the tests.

“SAT [exams] and graduate exams should not be optional. I think they are a pivotal factor in evaluating the credentials of a student during the application process,” Kobylska said, “Queens College is rated among the best colleges in the northern region. That being said, Queens College should maintain certain standards so that they can determine who is qualified to be admitted into the school.”

However, Magda Jablonowska, a senior at John Jay College, thinks the SAT is incompatible with students’ records.

“I believe that the SAT should be eliminated. One score alone should not dictate your abilities in subjects such as math and English. Each person has different test-taking skills and difficulties,” Jablonowska said. “Let’s say that you had a bad day and you did poorly on the exam; you probably won’t be eager to take it again. It is simply not fair for students.”

Krysta Tewksbury, a senior at Lindenhurst High School, believed there should be an alternative to subject-based testing in college admissions.

“I believe that the SAT tests are, overall, pointless. I feel that your score on one test shouldn’t determine your future and whether or not you should be allowed into a school. Rather, schools should test your personality and how much drive and passion you have for the chosen career path as opposed to how well you do on tests,” Tewksbury said.

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