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We are committed to providing you with the most up-to-date resources and announcements from the college admissions testing landscape. Here are some of the top headlines from this past month:
SAT Trends and Impact on College Admissions Departments
Summary: The College Board published a short digest of the top five trends that college admissions departments need to know as the exam changes and the testing population evolves. The trends include the fact that with more students taking the exam due to state-mandated testing, admissions departments need to rethink how they judge and use percentiles. The report also notes that many colleges saw a shift “in the score patterns of their applicant pools, particularly at the top end of the score range, during the last application cycle” due to students taking a cautious approach to the new SAT in its first year (either taking the old SAT early or taking the ACT instead). The College Board notes, things appear this year to be returning to normal. Finally, the digest reaffirms that the College Board and ACT are currently working on a revised concordance table of the two exams’ scores and will release these updated tables this summer.
What this means:
- Lots to parse through here. The percentile wonkiness we knew about. Be sure when looking at percentiles for college applicants, you look at the “User Percentile,” which considers just college-bound students. Ignore the “Nationally Representative Percentile,” which includes all students who take the SAT and is usually higher. The latter percentile will make students look more competitive than they actually are.
- We also had hints of an odd spike in test scores during the new SAT’s first year based on reports from a few colleges, which made it look like students were scoring higher on the new SAT. Good to see the College Board is warning everyone of this one-year aberration.
- The “great concordance summit” between the warring ACT and SAT is also good to see. You may remember the ACT was livid when the SAT published its own concordance table without ACT input. The SAT’s solo effort is currently the only concordance table available and is based on “leap frog math” the converts new SAT scores to old SAT scores and then compares those scores to the old SAT/ACT concordance tables co-developed by the organizations almost a decade ago. These concordance tables are likely pretty accurate, but we anxiously await the summer release of an official document.
SAT Score Trends: Five Things Enrollment Leaders Need to Know (College Board)
GRE Wins Another Two Battles Against LSAT
Summary: St. John’s Law School in New York City announced last week that it would accept the GRE for admissions in place of the LSAT beginning in Fall 2018. St John’s joins the growing list of law schools accepting the GRE. Additionally, an ABA committee just voted to recommend that the ABA remove requirements that an accredited law school use a “valid and reliable” admission test. This recommendation opens the door for law schools to universally accept the GRE (or even drop admissions tests all together). The proposal now moves to a public debate and comment period before a final decision will be made.
What this means:
- The ABA committee decision is a major but quiet shift. We will have to wait, though, to see if it actually becomes policy.
- St. John’s is the first law school to embrace the GRE after ETS published its study recently arguing that data supports claims that the GRE is a valid predictor of success in law school.
ABA Backs Testing Choices on Law Admissions (Inside Higher Ed)
St. John’s University School of Law Announces It Will Take GRE Scores (New York Law Journal)
GRE Claims Another New York Law School (Above the Law)
Increasing Number of Arrests for Test Imposters
Summary: Earlier this month a Chinese student was arrested in Pennsylvania for taking college entrance exams for other Chinese students seeking admission to American universities. The most recent arrest is indicative of the ACT and SAT’s increasing use of federal law enforcement to curb cheating.
What this means: All of these efforts are part of the ACT and SAT’s attempts to tighten test security after last year’s scathing reports about lax rules, poor enforcement, and SAT/ACT negligence in ensuring fair testing.