NACAC Commission Calls For College Admission Test Reevaluation


Students who perform poorly on college entrance tests now have an influential advocate to speak up on their behalf.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling, an Arlington, VA-based education association of more than 11,000 secondary school counselors, independent counselors, College Studentcollege admission and financial aid officers, enrollment managers, and organizations that work with students as they make the transition from high school to post-secondary education, believes that too much weight is put on SAT and ACT scores when colleges seek to enroll new students.

This week, NACAC released a report from a commission the organization created one year earlier which studied the use of standardized tests in undergraduate admission. What they found was that despite the importance U.S. schools put on entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT, they don’t always provide an accurate measurement of how a student will do once in college.

At the center of the report was the following comments:

  • Colleges and universities may be better served by admission exams more closely linked to high school curriculum. The SAT and ACT exams, while providing useful information, are based on college curriculum and not on the courses students take while in high school.
  • Subject Tests and College Board AP exams provide a more accurate measurement on how high school students will perform once they are in college. High school curricula is geared toward these tests, not the college entrance exams.
  • One other direction that college admission tests could go would be the development of curriculum-based achievement tests designed in consultation with colleges, secondary schools, and state and federal agencies. These tests encourage children to concentrate on their high school course material instead of taking test prep courses.

NACAC was also critical of U.S. News & World Report who publishes an annual college rating guide (America’s Best Colleges) that puts too much emphasis on test scores to rank colleges. The magazine uses SAT and ACT scores as one area of measurement for the reason that the overwhelming majority of colleges and universities require college entrance exams.

“Our Commission realized at the outset that a one-size-fits-all approach for the use of standardized tests does not reflect the realities facing our nation’s many and varied colleges and universities,” noted Commission chair William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Harvard University.  “Instead, the Commission focused on critical issues that affect all institutions and the students they serve.”

“We appreciate the work of this distinguished Commission, representing a wide range of institutions and perspectives, to identify and address pressing issues related to standardized testing for college admission,” stated Kimberly Johnston, NACAC President and Senior Associate Director of Admission at the University of Maine. “The NACAC Board of Directors looks forward considering the Commission’s recommendations for adoption this fall.”

Further Reading

About That NACAC Report on the SAT (US News & World Report)

College Panel Calls for Less Focus on SATs

Report Says SATs Deserve Less Weight in Admission

SAT May Someday Be Optional, Dean Says

External Links

National Association for College Admission Counseling

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Categories: Academics