Steven Veach
Making the SAT optional in college admissions — or dropping it entirely — would help black, Latino, and economically disadvantaged applicants significantly, according to a recent study by sociology professor Thomas Espenshade *72 and Chang Young Chung of the Office of Population Research. SAT-optional and “don’t-ask, don’t-tell” test-score policies increase the diversity of both the applicant pool and admitted students, according to the authors’ model, which relies on data from selective colleges and universities. The authors cautioned that a more diverse student body is not necessarily academically stronger or weaker. At private colleges, admitted students in the SAT-optional scenario scored higher in non-SAT measures of academic merit (high school GPA, class rank, and SAT II subject tests), but in the don’t-ask, don’t-tell scenario, qualifications of the admitted cohort were “markedly lower” than the baseline. Espenshade and Chung also noted a potential problem linked to the economy: If financial aid does not meet demand, lower-income students may be discouraged from applying, negating some diversity gains associated with de-emphasizing the SAT.