SAT scores are no longer required at Bryn Mawr College
By Aliya Chaudhry
Standardized test scores have long been considered to be an integral part of the college application. Now, more and more colleges are dropping the requirement, with the number of test-optional colleges growing to over 850, according to FairTest.org.
Bryn Mawr College went test-optional in 2014, making the class of 2019 the first set of applicants who were not required to send in test scores for either the SAT or the ACT.
Four years ago, Bryn Mawr conducted research looking at 10 years of standardized test score submissions along with GPAs, curriculum and how students were judged. The research showed that, “standardized test scores did not give us as much information saying that this was the best indicator of a student’s success,” according to Peaches Valdes, dean of undergraduate admissions at Bryn Mawr College.
The results of Bryn Mawr’s research matched those of a research study conducted by Bill Hiss, a former dean of admissions at Bates College, who found that going test-optional was beneficial for colleges and universities and that transcripts were actually the best indicators of academic success.
Valdes said, “We had institutional data and we had national data and therefore then we launched with going test-optional.”
Standardized tests, particularly the SAT, have been criticized for a number of reasons, including the belief that they test outdated or irrelevant information and are not a reliable indicator of academic ability. In addition, it has been pointed out that minority students and student from lower-income backgrounds perform worse on the SAT than others. Students criticized standardized tests for evaluating test-taking abilities instead of knowledge, ability or skill.
Briana Grenert, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College said that the SAT is, “not going to test how smart we are but how well we can take the test – that’s all it is.”
She said, “When our scores improved it was when we stopped paying attention to the content and just focused on the form.”
Mary Sweeney, another sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, stated that she believes the preparation involved in taking standardized tests is “overall a waste of time because it just teaches you how to take a test which is not a really important skill.”