Score One for Optional Testing

Mike Lovett

Brandeis will launch a pilot admissions program next year that makes submitting Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores in critical reading, math and writing optional. High-school students applying in fall 2014 will be able to submit a combination of scores from Advanced Placement, SAT subject tests or International Baccalaureate exams, or an enhanced academic portfolio.

“This is an evolutionary change, since we already strive to de-emphasize the role of standardized tests in our admissions decisions through the careful evaluation of the applicant’s high-school program and grades, recommendation letters, interview reports and other factors,” says Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment. “And our robust application pool this year, which increased more than 13 percent, makes this an ideal time to launch a pilot.”

Applicants choosing the combination of subject tests will submit scores in science or math and in English, history, languages, arts or social sciences, as well as one test of the student’s choice from a discipline other than the first two chosen. Alternatively, students may choose an academic portfolio option that includes one sample of analytical writing and an additional academic teacher evaluation.

Brandeis will continue to collect standardized test scores from students who choose the test-flexible option after they matriculate to facilitate ongoing review of the pilot program. After two years, the policy and its results will be evaluated. The Faculty Senate will be asked to consider a formal proposal to maintain, expand, narrow or discontinue the program.

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