January 3rd, 2012
Applicant success belies SAT’s value: Across North Carolina and the nation, high school seniors are sweating their college applications and fretting about one number: their SAT score. But not students aiming for Wake Forest University, which no longer requires students to submit the standardized test score. Wake Forest was the first highly ranked research university to announce the move away from the SAT in 2008.
Since then, the university in Winston-Salem has become more racially and socio-economically diverse. Pell Grant recipients almost doubled. Students of color increased from 18 percent to nearly 23 percent.
Along the way, the university also noticed an uptick in the number of students with an exemplary high school track record, which, research shows, is the best predictor of college success. The percentage of Wake Forest first-year students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes grew from 65 percent in 2008 to 83 percent last fall.
“We feel like we have attracted students that have achieved a great deal in the classroom, who are very talented, who are very bright, who are very hardworking students but who had one thing going against them and that was the SAT,” said Martha Allman, admissions dean at Wake Forest. “When we became test-optional, we started seeing these wonderful students that perhaps we would not have seen in our applicant pool before.”
The university’s results are reported in a new book, “SAT Wars,” edited by Joseph Soares, a sociology professor at Wake Forest. The book undercuts the notion that standardized tests are a good indicator of future academic achievement.