Standardised testing and university admissions

The latest trend in HE admissions in the United States is to move away from standardised tests. George Washington University has just joined the well populated ranks of universities who feel that the tests may be doing more harm than good in expanding the range of their student bodies and allowing them to pursue their access agendas. Advocates of tests like the SAT or ACT in the United States have always argued that they can evidence a student’s intellectual abilities, regardless of that student’s background; critics have argued that such tests are more closely correlated to zip code, and to hot-housed test preparation, than to anything else. Wesleyan University has found that using school grades (as determined by individual schools and teachers) as a predictor of university success not only works well, but increases the intake of first generation and minority students.

Curious, then, that the UK should be so adamant that moving from course work to standardised national tests is the only way forward. I am thinking of the currently-being-introduced changes to GCSE and A level — although to be fair, these are subject exams rather than general aptitude tests. Curious, also, that in the US there are calls to expand the standardised testing that takes place after graduation from university.

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