The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Monday that it will once again need SAT or ACT test scores from students applying in 2022, two years after suspending the requirement during the pandemic.
The College Board has announced that the SAT will go digital, signalling a shift in the culture of standardised testing. In a Q&A provided by MIT News, Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions and student financial services, stated that reintroducing standardised test results will assist identify individuals who are most likely to thrive at MIT.
“Our research has shown that, in most cases, we cannot reliably predict students will do well at MIT unless we consider standardized test results alongside grades, coursework, and other factors,” he said. “These findings are statistically robust and stable over time and hold when you control for socioeconomic factors and look across demographic groups. And the math component of the testing turns out to be most important.”
According to him, test scores will continue to be only one component of a “holistic” admissions process. Standardized test scores, according to Schmill, could strengthen admissions chances for students from deprived backgrounds because they provide an opportunity to showcase academic ability even if their high school does not offer advanced coursework or if they lack access to “fancy internships and expensive extracurriculars” and “lengthy letters of recommendation from their overburdened teachers.”
Students who are unable to take the test securely due to a disaster or disruption, COVID-19 concerns, or other reasons, according to Schmill, can add an explanation in their application. In these circumstances, students will still receive a “full and impartial review,” Schmill noted in a blog post.
MIT’s decision goes against the grain of many prominent colleges and universities that have abandoned standardised exam requirements, which critics argue gives wealthy students an unfair edge since they have access to tutors and other resources. According to Bob Schaeffer, executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, MIT “is obviously an anomaly,” and the move was “a regrettable judgment.”
More than two-thirds of the 2,330 four-year schools and universities in the United States, according to Schaeffer, have made SAT or ACT scores optional until at least autumn 2023. He also pointed out that MIT had not made public the data it cited, which showed that standardised math exam scores can predict university performance.
“It’s hard to understand how without more evidence,” he said. “MIT math scores are so high on average that there won’t be much distribution in scores.”
According to Schmill, MIT has not shared its statistics because it could jeopardise the privacy of its students. While he doesn’t “begrudge any particular institution for making whatever decision that’s correct for them,” Andrew Palumbo, vice president for enrollment management at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, believes that standardised testing has “classist, racist, sexist connotations.”
Meanwhile, according to Palumbo, Worcester Polytechnic Institute gives more weight to a student’s high school transcript since it captures a more complete picture of academic accomplishment over multiple years. For at least the next eight years, the institution will not evaluate test scores in its admissions process.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.