Wake Forest Makes SAT Optional
Wake Forest has become the first nationally ranked university to drop the requirement that applicants submit an SAT or other standardized test score, joining numerous liberal arts colleges.
While Wake’s decision isn’t going to have the impact of such a move from a Harvard or Stanford, it is notable. Wake is No. 30 on the U.S. News & World Report list of top national universities and however much most educators may dispute the meaning of that list, it is influential with many prospective students, and this marks the first time that an institution that high on the list for universities has ever dropped its standardized testing requirement.
Robert Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, said it was “very significant” to have a university of this type joining the growing number of colleges dropping the SAT requirement. Beyond showing that such a move is possible at a larger institution, Wake Forest will also draw more attention to the option in the Southeast, where there has been less movement away from the SAT than in the Northeast. “There are now [SAT]-optional schools of every type in every region of the country,” Schaeffer said.
Jill Tiefenthaler, the new provost at Wake Forest, said that she has been interested in the growing debate about the SAT and that she reviewed the research on the test with the university’s admissions professionals and found that the SAT “is not a great predictor of college success,” and appears to discourage applications for black and Latino applicants, who see the test as biased.
An interesting move. Standardized tests are a shortcut to allow admissions offices to quickly compare students from a variety of backgrounds and different schools. Wake is going to increase its admissions staff by 20 percent and devote more time to personal interviews and other more time-intensive screening measures. It will be interesting to see how many large, selective institutions follow suit.