Jenkins: Make entrance exams optional

By Jeffrey Jenkins

Everyone remembers the ominous feeling of sitting in a large testing room with nothing more than a No. 2 pencil and a calculator, waiting for the test proctor to hand you a college entrance exam-the test supposedly designed to measure your aptitude for a college education.

Perhaps, many of you took advantage of the numerous tutoring agencies that promise an increased score or your money back-the same agencies that teach you how to “beat the test,” rather than learn the material on which you are tested.

The SAT and ACT reported 1.5 million and 1.3 million registered testers, respectively, in their 2007 press releases. These statistics show an increase of testers when compared with the statistics from 2006, because of the fact that more students are taking both exams to stand out to a college admission board.

There is a growing trend, especially among small liberal arts colleges, to make entrance exams optional in an attempt to create more diverse student bodies. However, Wake Forest University, a Top-30 university, according to the U.S. News and World Report America’s Best Colleges 2008, announced in a May 27 press release that the SAT and ACT are now optional and not required for admission.

Martha Allman, director of admissions at WFU said that “by making the SAT and ACT optional, we hope to broaden the applicant pool and increase access at Wake Forest for groups of students who are currently underrepresented at selective universities.”

WFU is the first notable university to pioneer this new policy. Universities around the country including our own would do well to follow the example of WSU. University admission boards should focus on academic achievement, extracurricular activities and overall character that should be ascertained through a formal interview, rather than attempting to sum up an individual’s potential for success in a simple number.

College entrance exams do not portray abilities, character and potential for college success. A 2007 study performed by the Center for Studies in Higher Education revealed that a student’s high school GPA is consistently more accurate than an SAT score at predicting academic success in college.

By using college exam scores, universities are incapable of making a distinction among students who know the material well and are academically gifted and those who can afford to pay for a high priced tutoring service or expensive books that teach test-beating strategies. College admissions boards across the country should make the SAT and ACT optional and focus on more reliable indicators of academic success.

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