Matt's Past SAT/ACT News Update

Matt O'Connor

Sep 02, 2022

The California Institute of Technology, (Caltech) which is highly selective and which has historically had among the very highest SAT/ACT scores for its admitted students, has announced that it will remain test blind (meaning that scores will not be considered even if submitted) through the fall of 2025.


The California Institute of Technology will not review SAT and ACT scores of undergraduate students applying for admissions through fall 2025, extending its pandemic-era kibosh on entrance exams, it announced last week.

CalTech said an internal study revealed standardized test scores “have little to no power” predicting academic performance in required mathematics and physics courses for first-year students in the institute’s core curriculum.

CalTech initially dropped entrance exams as an acknowledgement of students’ inability to sit for the tests during pandemic building closures. It announced a two-year testing moratorium in June 2020, which last year it then extended through the fall 2023 enrollment cycle.

The institute said in a statement the decision to continue the testing ban stems from a “rigorous internal analysis” of the previous seven cohorts of first-year undergraduates and their academic results. This encompasses students who matriculated before and after CalTech began test-free admissions.

Sticking with these policies will allow CalTech to keep studying links between test scores and academic performance, it said.

Caltech said the predictive power of assessment scores “appears to dissipate as students progress through the first-year core curriculum.”

“A consensus has developed among faculty and professional staff involved in admissions at Caltech,” Jared Leadbetter, environmental microbiology professor and chair of the institution’s first-year admissions committee, said in a statement. “That is, that numerous other key attributes of applications serve as stronger indicators of the potential for student success here.”

This was the opposite conclusion drawn by one of CalTech’s peers, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which in March announced it would revive admissions testing requirements. MIT said test scores helped predict students’ academic success.

Melissa Korn of The Wall Street Journal examines how colleges and universities may have to adjust their admissions procedures if the Supreme Court's ruling on two crucial pending cases results in an end to current affirmative action practices.


Colleges have considered applicants’ race in admission decisions for decades. Starting next year, that could be curtailed or even illegal, depending on the outcome of cases before the Supreme Court. So college-admissions officials are rushing to figure out what it would mean to enroll a diverse class of students if the law changes.

They say that would mean widening recruiting efforts, looking more closely at applicants’ backgrounds and proactively offering spots to students before they even apply.

As the Supreme Court prepares to rule on two lawsuits challenging how Harvard University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill use race as a factor in whom they admit, it will be looking at whether to overturn decades of precedent allowing some consideration of race. What is permitted has been narrowed over time. Current law allows schools to take into account an applicant’s race in limited ways, but not as a rigid set-aside or quota for minority applicants. Legal scholars say the court could tighten its rules on how exactly schools can consider race—for instance, making institutions better document how they’ve considered race-neutral strategies—uphold the current rules, or ban the consideration of race entirely. The Court is expected to hear the cases during its next term, which begins in October, with a ruling expected by June.

Schools will need to look beyond high-school grade-point averages and test scores if race-based affirmative action disappears, proponents of student diversity say.

High schools with high Black and Latino enrollment are less likely than others to offer advanced math and science classes like physics and calculus, federal data show. Admissions officers and high-school counselors raise the question: Should only students with access to high-level classes be considered for the most selective colleges? Or also students who make the most of their limited resources?

More than 200 colleges and scholarship organizations already use the College Board’s Landscape tool. Alongside test scores, it provides neighborhood and high-school information such as whether an applicant’s area is suburban or rural and the share of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

“It’s not a silver bullet,” says Marco Dinovelli, assistant vice chancellor of undergraduate admissions at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “But I do think it adds some valuable context.”

For instance, he says, if an applicant’s transcript shows two Advanced Placement classes, Landscape lets his team see if the teen’s school only offered two such classes—or if the majority of students took at least four, putting the candidate near the bottom of the pack.

Adding a few other data points–such as the value of owner-occupied homes where the applicant lives and what share of area adults attended college–to figures like income could help schools boost diversity without sacrificing academic qualifications, says Glenn Ellison, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studied how Chicago used race-neutral admissions in its selective exam-entry high schools.

The Vice President for enrollment at Wake Forest University (the first US News top-30-ranked university to adopt a test optional policy) has written an article for Inside Higher Ed that details the university's experience with test optional admissions.


According to a recent university report, nonsubmitters at Wake Forest are twice as likely to be first-generation college students, Pell-eligible and/or domestic students of color; in other words, some of the most underrepresented and underserved students in higher education. Perhaps that is why we see a small discrepancy in GPAs between standardized test submitters and their test-optional classmates after the first year of Wake Forest coursework, with submitters achieving an average GPA that outpaces test-optional students by 0.13 (on a 4.0 scale).

The GPAs of nonsubmitters improve relative to their test-submitting colleagues in subsequent years. The differential in average cumulative GPA narrows to 0.12 after the sophomore year and shrinks to 0.06 by the end of the junior year. By the time the two groups reach graduation, test submitters have maintained their average cumulative GPA from their first year, while nonsubmitters have reduced the GPA differential to just 0.03. Even more impressive, a larger percentage of test-optional students persist to graduation (90 percent) than their test-submitting counterparts (87 percent).

When the university first adopted test-optional admissions, some worried that academic excellence would be compromised or that those who did not submit scores would be less capable of collegiate success. Our data show those concerns were unfounded, especially if considered over the course of one’s collegiate experience.

New Hampshire is seeking approval for a novel way to use federal pandemic aid funding: to pay for online SAT/ACT tutoring:


The New Hampshire Department of Education is hoping to use federal pandemic aid to pay for online tutoring for standardized admission tests – potentially until 2027.

In a request to the Executive Council ahead of its meeting Wednesday, the department is requesting to set aside $4.8 million in federal school pandemic aid to contract with TPR Education, LLC, a company that runs the website That website allows students to sign up for virtual tutoring services, including tutoring for the SAT, the ACT, and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) for applicants to military schools.

In an update to the article above, New Hampshire has awarded the tutoring contract.

In continued fallout from the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, an SAT test administrator has pled guilty to a scheme in which students' SAT/ACT scores were inflated by the correction of wrong answers:


A Kyiv-born test administrator who admitted to involvement in Operation Varsity Blues, the U.S. college admissions bribery scandal, was spared prison on Tuesday after helping prosecutors build cases against other defendants.

Igor Dvorskiy, 56, was sentenced to one year of supervised release, including three months in home confinement, and ordered to forfeit $149,540, the office of U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins in Massachusetts said.

The defendant was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston, after pleading guilty in 2019 to conspiring to commit racketeering.

Dvorskiy, a former director of the private Los Angeles high school West Hollywood College Prep, was accused of accepting nearly $200,000 in bribes to help parents inflate their children's scores on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams.

Prosecutors said Dvorskiy arranged for sham proctors to "correct" the children's wrong answers.

The parents were represented by William "Rick" Singer, a consultant who admitted to leading the scheme to help their children get into top universities through cheating and bribery. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16.

In a seldom-discussed issue, a student has started an online petition to protest the College Board's practice of improperly marking some student responses on their SAT answer sheet as "omitted" (meaning no penciled-in answer choice, and therefore no credit given) for certain questions, despite students having filled in a response to each question. The petition asserts that the College Board's inaccurate test scoring equipment should be upgraded.