The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Average SAT scores are dropping for admitted students

Your eyes burn with exhaustion and your head throbs from thinking too much. You glance quickly at your watch and realize with a jolt in your stomach, that you only have about two minutes left on this section. As panic bubbles up in your stomach, you frantically skim a question – any question – but it is in vain. You have once again bombed the math section. Your punishment: sitting through yet another five-hour session of the SAT test.Colleges across the nation have used the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) test to measure skills that students apparently should have acquired during high school. The majority of the time, a student must have a minimum SAT score for their applications to even be considered in the admissions process. However, Guilford is one of the few colleges that do not require SAT scores from their prospective students.

As a writing-oriented college, Guilford does not place as much importance on test scores as other schools. For students who do not feel that their SAT scores accurately represent their skills, Guilford offers the option of submitting an additional essay instead of the scores.

“The test-optional policy has been in effect for as long as I’ve been at the college (13 years),” said Nancy Reimer, senior assistant director of admission. “It’s designed for students who show strong academic performance in high school, but for whom the SAT or ACT score is not an accurate reflection of their preparation for college level work.”

Most students find this environment to be very refreshing after four years of taking multiple choice tests where one can only get an answer that is either completely right or completely wrong.

Unfortunately for the students who do submit their scores, it seems that the average SAT score of admitted students has steadily declined over the past three years.

The SAT score is based on three sections: writing, reading, and math. Since each section is out of 800 points, the maximum score one can get on the test is 2400 points. Guilford keeps track of the averages of the combined math and reading section scores because the writing section is still relatively new.

The average SAT score for Guilford first-years has declined from a score of 1118 in 2007 to 1111 in 2008 and, to 1063 in 2009. If this decline continues, then it will reflect poorly on Guilford.

The drop in SAT averages could indicate that Guilford is lowering its standards for admitted students. This would result in higher acceptance rates for the college and more first-years accepted each year.

For the past three years, Guilford has enjoyed record-breakingly large classes of first-year students. This past year, the college admitted 460 first-years. Since the average SAT scores for first-year students has been dropping over the past three years, I would say that there may be a connection between the two. Guilford may be accepting students with lower SAT scores than they have in previous years.

At the same time, Guilford’s administration focuses more on a student’s high school transcript than SAT scores during the admissions process, which is good for prospective students. After all, test scores do not necessarily reflect a student’s intelligence. I am a terrible test-taker because I can get test-anxiety. I feel that I can better demonstrate my knowledge of the subject through discussions and debates in the classroom.

So, should we view the decreased SAT averages as a positive sign that our school is rejecting the idea that high test scores equal high intelligence? Or, should we view it as a negative sign that Guilford is lowering its standards just to boast about its expanding student body?

Unfortunately, based on the similarities in the trends of the greater number of admitted students and the decreasing SAT scores, it very well may be the latter.

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