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Shelve the S.A.T?

It's up to colleges to stop the frenzy over the SAT and ACT.

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Attention college-bound students: The SAT is overrated. A new study – led by a Harvard official, so it's got Ivy cred – says colleges inflate the importance of the dreaded test and should consider making it optional. Oh, joy! Or...?

The frenzy and anxiety that have built up over this potentially life-altering admissions test must recede. If you're a high school senior right now, you might be taking the SAT for the third or even fourth time, hoping to inch up scores just one more notch – this after having perhaps invested more than $1,000 in a multisession test-prep course.

Students spend far too much time and money on the SAT and its counterpart, the ACT, according to the study released last week by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Their focus is feeding a billion-dollar test-prep industry, and putting less well-off students – often minorities – at a disadvantage. A student's energy would be better directed at high school study.

Meanwhile, the study points out that all this energy is devoted to tests that don't do an adequate job in predicting an applicant's college performance – the reason colleges require these standardized aptitude exams in the first place.

The NACAC study, led by Harvard University Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons, recommends that colleges and universities review the role of the SAT and ACT in admissions and merit aid and, if the tests don't predict performance, consider not requiring them.

More than 280 of the nation's 2,600 four-year colleges and universities don't require standardized aptitude tests. These include several selective private institutions such as Bates College, Wake Forest University, and Smith College.


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