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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Mallaley

The Resurgence of Standardized Testing: A Game Changer in College Admissions

In a surprising turn of events, highly selective colleges are reverting to standardized testing requirements, with the University of Texas at Austin leading the charge. UT's decision to reinstate testing requirements underscores the growing recognition of the predictive power of test scores in determining academic success. With over 52,000 students and a stellar reputation, UT's move sets a precedent for other public universities to follow suit, marking a significant shift in the collegiate landscape.


As colleges analyze performance data from submitters and non-submitters, the importance of standardized testing becomes increasingly evident. Institutions like MIT, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown have reinstated testing requirements after finding that test scores significantly impact academic outcomes.


Tried & True closely tracks these testing policies in our College Testing Policies database. For context on the significance of these recent changes it is useful to understand that approximately 2 years ago, our database showed 7 colleges requiring SAT or ACT scores; last year, 14 required scores; as of now (3/21/2024), 33 are requiring scores.


According to UT President Jay Hartzell, students who submitted test scores outperformed non-submitters, highlighting the crucial role of testing in academic placement and success.


The data from UT Austin's recent class further supports the value of standardized testing. Test submitters were 55 percent less likely to have a first-semester GPA below 2.0 and had significantly higher GPAs, on average, compared to non-submitters. This disparity underscores the protective role of testing in ensuring students are academically prepared for college coursework, challenging the notion that GPA alone is a sufficient predictor of academic performance.


Moreover, the resurgence of testing extends beyond individual institutions, with a trend emerging among Southern public universities. Institutions like UNC Chapel Hill, Auburn, and Alabama are considering reinstating testing requirements, signaling a broader shift towards leveraging the predictive power of test scores. This move has the potential to level the playing field in college admissions and promote academic excellence across diverse student populations.


However, not all colleges are embracing this trend. University of Michigan recently committed to test-optional admissions, citing goals of access and diversity. While the debate over testing requirements continues, the return of highly selective institutions to standardized testing underscores the evolving conversation around the role of testing in promoting academic excellence and ensuring equitable access to higher education.


As colleges navigate these changes, one thing remains clear: the resurgence of standardized testing will continue to shape the future of college admissions and have far-reaching implications for students and institutions alike.


For detailed and updated information on college testing requirements, visit our College Testing Policies database.

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