UChicago Now Test Optional

UChicago recently became a test optional school, with no requirement to submit ACT, SAT, or AP scores. What do you guys think of this move? UChicago is certainly not the first to go test optional, but it is by far the most selective and reputable school to do so.

Is this indicative of a shift away from such a strong emphasis on test scores, or a smaller, niche trend?

Comments (25)

Jan 30, 2019

Well standardized tests are one of the only "fair" ways to be selective when admitting students. As much as it sucks, these tests do provide schools with a way to measure how academically ready students are. I didn't say these tests were THE appropriate test but by standardizing things... you get a better picture.

I wouldn't go to UChicago in a few years after they admit... a lesser student body. There's no way they can achieve a "better" class than with another data point. Fucking lol.

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Jan 30, 2019

Either the quality of their student population will dramatically decrease, or they're just saying this so people without scores will apply and take a fat L so they can artifically lower their acceptance rate. UChicago always seemed like a "rank hungry" school to me.

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Feb 1, 2019

I am a current hs junior, and UChicago has always been my number one choice. I know many people with near perfect scores that end up getting rejection letters from UChicago, and still get in to many other selective schools, and it was very surprising when I learned that they went test optional last year.

My test scores are certainly not perfect, but I am happy with my 3.95 GPA with a relatively difficult course load.

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Feb 1, 2019

Don't take the school so seriously. They're just cowtowing to the PC crowd that thinks standardized tests are racist or whatever. They now have a technical out: we don't even require the test. Doesn't stop them from requiring that any applicant who applies without scores be the valedictorian of an elite prep school who has also made a few "20 under 20" lists and built a village in a third world country.

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Jan 31, 2019

It's liks people said "SATs aren't a good proxy for intelligence" enough times they actually believed it. This is dumb, because test scores are the one data point they have that's identically and systematically sampled.

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Jan 31, 2019

You gotta love when schools are now emphasizing the quality of "extracurriculars" and such which clearly benefit upper class families over working/middle class families. Hard to spend a summer programming robots or building homes in Uganda when you're working part time at the grocery store to support your parents. In conjunction with the ballooning tuition costs and associated student debt, we are absolutely squeezing out income mobility in this country.

Test scores are the ultimate equalizer - no matter how rich or poor, you're asked the same questions and have the same opportunity to perform under pressure. All of this "subjective analysis" screws the most qualified candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.

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Jan 31, 2019

Well said.

Jan 31, 2019

Agree on your first point but UMC kids still have an advantage in standardized tests considering how much cash these status-hungry parents will shell out for tutors and prep classes. To be fair though, a lot harder to game tests than extra curriculars are. Would be neat to see schools champion economic diversity in their classes to go with cultural diversity. This isn't the way to do it though.

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Jan 31, 2019

Agreed, that's always an issue (we can go deeper into benefits such as two-parent household, nutrition, more free time, etc). At the end of the day, though, knowledge has become free today as everything's online. Standardized tests aren't perfect but they certainly seem like a helpful indicator that's low correlation to other aspects of candidacy.

Jan 31, 2019

I think you're basically right. There's a strong causal effect of parents' income on test scores, but people misinterpret this and claim that testing is unfair.

Fact is, the roots of that difference between poor kid and rich kid are longstanding -- we know rich and poor kids enter kindergarten at different ability levels. Moreover, it's empirically dubious that the hyper-expensive tutoring apparatus has a very strong impact on scores.

Those factors that do make for systematic differences in test scores make for insurmountable barriers in the absence of test scores. How can some rural kid with no AP classes and no robotics team stack up against the Harvard-Westlake applicant if there's no apples-to-apples score?

Put another way, how are Asian kids ever going to get into good colleges if they can't even demonstrate their ability on SATs? We already know that Harvard College perceives their non-score applications as less-than; It hardly strains credulity to think this is common practice.

Jan 31, 2019

No I agree it's not an improvement to get rid of them unless colleges are going to start filling socioeconomic quotas as well. Just pointing out that test scores aren't an equal opportunity sport either.

Feb 1, 2019

Could you source any studies you may have on the rich and poor kids entering kindergarten at different ability levels? I have heard this before but would be neat to see any studies out there.

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Jan 31, 2019

I first came across it in a literature review for something only tangentially related (school performance is a pretty popular topic for test-driving statistical methods). This isn't exactly what I was thinking of, but it's close.

In other words, there is a 27 percentage point gap in school readiness between poor children and those from moderate or higher income families.

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/...

Jan 31, 2019

Aftera few thousands applications, you'll know how to read between the lines to see applicants for who they really are. Building houses in Uganda is clearly just crap rich kids do. No one takes it seriously. Working part-time at crappy after-school jobs while still earning top grades is far more impressive.

The thing about the SAT is that they can be gamed. Pay for a tutor, take a prep course and you're on your way to 750+ on both verbal and math. I got good scores while not affording all the expensive test prep that rich kids buy. I'm not a fan of SAT being objective measure. High scores now mean mom and dad invested heavily in what it takes for their kid to get high scores.

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Feb 1, 2019

What's more objective than the SAT?

Feb 5, 2019

GPA

Jan 30, 2019

How do you compare a GPA from an urban high school with shitty teachers and books (or lack thereof) vs a suburban high school with top of the line equipment and teachers?

Feb 5, 2019

I would place more value on a 3.8 from the urban school than a 3.8 from the suburban school. Not easy to do well in a school where you have a non-negligible chance of being stabbed to death in the restroom.

For admissions to be anywhere near "fair" to poorer students with less than ideal backgrounds, context must be considered. The ACT/SAT would be decent proxies for overall knowledge and college readiness if they weren't composed of ridiculous, "read the tea leaves" abstract BS "reasoning" questions which require gamesmanship via thousand dollar plus tutoring program. I knew kids much smarter (in terms of the amount of knowledge they could retain and how quickly they could learn new things) than myself that didn't do as well on the SAT because they didn't spend hours studying for it and couldn't afford a personal tutor.

Standardized tests are useful at identifying outliers (the kid who only gets points for writing his name correctly is probably not college material and the kid who misses only two questions is probably wicked smaht) but pretty useless for "ranking" the other 90% of people who take it.

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Feb 1, 2019

This is such a tired act.

Standardized testing is by far the most objective part of the application. Nobody is saying it's perfect or that other things shouldn't be considered. In fact, nobody is even saying it's the most important thing.

But to say GPA is more objective is just ridiculous. Different schools, teachers, classes, backgrounds. Hell, schools don't even calculate GPA the same way as one another. It's the opposite of an objective comparison.

If you want to talk fairness, that's a much more vague and complicated concept. Fair means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But no way is GPA remotely as objective as two people taking the exact same test.

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Feb 5, 2019

You just sound like you drank the kool-aid.

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Jan 31, 2019

I can't wait till future UChicago graduates apply for top tier BBs and Consulting firms and can't actually apply because they can't fulfill the required SAT/ACT score section of the application

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Feb 1, 2019
Pizz:

I can't wait till future UChicago graduates apply for top tier BBs and Consulting firms and can't actually apply because they can't fulfill the required SAT/ACT score section of the application

Yea that's going to be super exciting when that happens...

Funniest
Feb 1, 2019

There goes the neighborhood....

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Feb 5, 2019
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