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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Elite colleges drop SAT, ACT essay test

The ability to write cogently, quickly and under pressure, helped me get into and through college.

However, a growing list of selective universities have stopped requiring applicants to take SAT and ACT essay tests, reports  Nick Anderson in the Washington Post.

Brown, Princeton and Stanford dropped the requirement this month, following Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale. The University of Michigan followed suit yesterday.

The essay test unfairly burdens low-income students, who often take the SAT for free during the school day, Logan Powell, Brown’s dean of admission, explained in a news release. “While free school-day SATs are now offered at nearly 8,000 schools nationwide, they do not all include the essay portion of the SAT.”

Fewer than 25 universities now require essay scores, writes Anderson.

The College Board, which oversees the SAT, added a mandatory 25-minute writing assignment to the main test 13 years ago and raised the maximum total score to 2400. But that version flopped. In a 2016 overhaul, the SAT’s top score reverted to 1600. The essay was retained, but the time for it was lengthened to 50 minutes. It was made optional and scored separately. The format calls for students to read a given text — one example the College Board posted online is a short piece exploring the problem of light pollution in the night sky — and then write an analysis of how the author builds an argument to persuade the audience. The College Board said it is meant to resemble a “typical college writing assignment.”

In place of the essay test, some universities will require applicants to submit a graded high school writing assignment, while others will rely on the admissions essay. The latter often shows the applicant’s mother’s writing skill — or the editing and writing skill of the tutor hired by the applicant’s parents.

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