Summer Sale! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

Standardized tests have their uses in college admissions

Op-ed contributor Carlene Buccino's argument against the objectivity of SAT scores is compelling but flawed ("The best test scores money can buy," Dec. 13). There is a robust literature that supports the use of SAT scores in the admissions process.

Generally, institutions of higher learning are well-versed regarding literature that suggests the cultural, socio-economic and gender biases of the SAT and other standardized exams. In fact, some institutions tier the SAT bottom-line in adherence to the literature.

In essence, when the literature supports a lower average score for a given cohort of applicants, the institution reduces the score necessary for admission. While this may outwardly appear as favoritism (by lowing standards), it is a practice supported by the data.

Research suggests that the best predictors of college-level and graduate school performance are grade point average, the predominant factor, coupled with standardized test scores. When SAT scores are coupled with GPA, the ability to predict performance is greatly improved.

When 30,000 high school students are applying for admission, having an SAT bottom line assists in the process of discovering "worthwhile" applicants, in the sense of people who fit the unique brand of an institution. For example, an art student applying to a technical school may not be an ideal fit for either the student or the institution.

There is also an experiential value to completing standardized exams prior to undergraduate studies. An ever growing volume of undergraduates are continuing their education, moving onto graduate and/or professional school. Numerous studies support experience/exposure results in improved scores. Translation: If you take the SAT now, you may be better prepared for the GRE, MCAT, etc.

Given the data, accepting a student with higher SAT scores is logical for many institutions. As the ability to predict student performance improves, so does the ability to predict graduation rates, students who will continue their education into graduate school, and more. It is an intellectual arms-race for the best students, who in turn become the best alumni.

Beyond academia, licensure exams and certifications are necessary in a number of industries. As a result, the ability to perform on standardized exams is critical. While one cannot directly equate performance on the SAT to performance on the Medical Boards or similar exams, exposure is still a piece of the puzzle.

Think about it. Would you want a physician who could not pass the minimum standards of their field?

Derek H. Trott

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • The victims of violence

    The victims of violence

    Regarding your recent front-page reports on the victims of violence — one on the Freddie Gray case, the other of the 45 murder victims in July — as mind-boggling as these stories were, my first thought was that "black lives matter," "all lives matter" no matter how they were killed or by whom.

  • Let teachers teach, not test

    Let teachers teach, not test

    In the recent commentary by Betty Weller and Elizabeth Ysla Leight ("Less testing, more learning," Sept. 1), the authors observe that "students spend an excessive amount of time taking and preparing for standardized tests." In fact, they relate in Carroll County "tests were scheduled for all but...

  • Have we grown numb to the deaths of our fellow citizens?

    Have we grown numb to the deaths of our fellow citizens?

    The Sun cover story that profiled the 45 people murdered in July enabled readers to see that behind the statistics were real people, most of whom had families and friends who loved them, and some of whom died simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time ("45 murders in 31 days...

  • Marilyn Mosby is just another grandstanding politician

    Marilyn Mosby is just another grandstanding politician

    I have several points of disagreement with letter writer Kweisi Mfume's recent assessment of Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby ("Mfume: Sun is too quick to judge Mosby," Aug. 28).

  • Mandel's other side

    Mandel's other side

    Thank you for your editorial regarding Marvin Mandel and exposing the other side of the coin before too many people move for beatification ("The Mandel legacy," Sept. 1).

  • Could the old city jail become a tourist site?

    Could the old city jail become a tourist site?

    Following the announcement of Gov. Larry Hogan's closure of the Baltimore City Detention Center, local journalists and residents alike have praised the shutdown, noting its inadequate infrastructure ("Gov. Hogan announces 'immediate' closure of Baltimore jail," July 30).