Baylor pays for SAT retakes

Baylor University in Waco, Tex., is trying to climb to the top tier in the U.S. News rankings by boosting SAT scores of students.  So it’s offering “admitted freshmen a $300 campus bookstore credit to retake the SAT, and $1,000 a year in merit scholarship aid for those who raised their scores by at least 50 points,” reports the New York Times. The higher scores are reported to U.S. News.

Of this year’s freshman class of more than 3,000, 861 students received the bookstore credit and 150 students qualified for the $1,000-a-year merit aid, said John Barry, the university’s vice president for communications and marketing.

. . . The offer, which was reported last week by the university’s student newspaper, The Lariat, raised Baylor’s average SAT score for incoming freshmen to 1210, from about 1200, Mr. Barry said.

Via The Quick and the Ed.

Update: The University of Alabama Law School is waiving application fees and offering $20 in iTunes downloads to applicants with high LSAT scores. Another way to game the rankings?

Update: In response to criticism and complaints from its own faculty, Baylor has dropped its SAT retake bonus offer.

About Joanne


  1. Cardinal Fang says:

    As long as there are metrics, people will try to game them. Interestingly, in this case it didn’t work- 1200 to 1210? Big deal.

  2. I spent the most miserable year of my life as a freshman at Baylor. There are some fantastic students there and some excellent faculty, but the administration is ridiculous. Many of the campus policies are outrageous or just plain dumb — this one included.

    My advice to potential students: if you can boost your SAT score up another 50-100 points, apply to school elsewhere!

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    U of Alabama isn’t gaming the rankings. They’re trying to lure better students to apply (assuming, arguendo, that LSATs measure something meaningful). Lots of undergraduate schools do the same thing. National Merit Semifinalists (in other words, high scorers on the PSAT) get swamped with “priority” applications from colleges.

    Baylor is simply trying to make the same students look better by randomly scoring a little better on the SATs. Notice that the Baylor trick can’t possibly make average scores go down, since they calculate average SAT score using the highest score that an student gets. So if a Baylor re-tester does better, it counts, but if she does worse, it doesn’t count.

  4. What ‘Bama’s law school is doing seems perfectly legitimate, but Baylor’s actions seem wrong. UA is simply offering incentives in order to get better applicants. Why is that any different from offering scholarships to those with high scores? It’s just a different incentive, so I can’t see why it’s objectionable in any way. Baylor’s system has nothing to do with getting better students to apply, which is why it’s an entirely different issue, IMO.

  5. Cardinal Fang says:

    Baylor has decided not to continue this odious program.