Caltech Drops SAT Subject Tests

And three colleges abandon the SAT and ACT.

January 27, 2020

The California Institute of Technology announced Thursday that it is eliminating the SAT Subject Test scores as a requirement for admissions. Caltech is among the very few institutions that requires subject tests from all applicants. The university had been requiring students to take and submit scores in the SAT Subject Test in mathematics level 2, as well as one SAT science test in either ecological biology, molecular biology, chemistry or physics.

"In reviewing our admissions requirements, we have come to the conclusion that the requirement for submission of SAT subject test scores creates an unnecessary barrier to applying for a Caltech education," said a statement from Nikki Chun, director of undergraduate admissions. "We are guiding our focus back to long-term academic STEM preparedness based on coursework and grade performance."

Caltech continues to require all applicants to submit either the SAT or the ACT.

But also in recent weeks, Indiana University at Bloomington, Lourdes University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College dropped requirements that all applicants submit the SAT or ACT.

Indiana's move was expected because the university's Board of Trustees voted in December to give the faculty at each of its campuses the right to adopt test-optional admissions.

A statement from Indiana at Bloomington said, "Research indicates that for most students, high school GPA paired with test scores provides the best prediction of academic success at Indiana University. However, for some students a standardized test score may not show all that they are capable of and tell the full story of their potential."

A statement from Lourdes said, "Standardized test scores may not always reflect an accurate indication of the abilities needed to succeed in college for a number of student populations. People without access to test preparation courses and tutors is one example. Often, the cost to retake these standardized tests can be a deterrent and therefore a barrier to admission. The test-optional admissions policy also can benefit individuals with learning and physical differences and English language learners."

A statement from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods said "This holistic approach will allow SMWC to consider student strengths that are exhibited in other areas than just ACT or SAT test scores."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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