Sarah Lawrence Drops Admissions Tests

University Testing

Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, is the latest addition to the ever-growing list of “test score optional” colleges. Beginning with the high school graduating class of 2005, no applicants will be required to submit standardized test scores.


The decision was made by college officials in the wake of the College Board’s plan to introduce a “new SAT” next year (see article, p. 1). “While the changes to the SAT are well intentioned,” explained Dean of Admission Thyra Briggs, “we feel that it is important at this time for our admission policy to reflect that standardized testing is not effective in evaluating a students’ ability to succeed in a writing-based curriculum such as ours.”


Dean Briggs specifically criticized the much-promoted SAT-I “Writing” Test, noting that the required essay will be “not at all reflective of how our students are going to have to write.” She said that classes at Sarah Lawrence require lengthy papers requiring research and analysis, concluding, “They are never given a topic they’ve never seen and asked to write spontaneously for 25 minutes.”


Sarah Lawrence also said that it wanted to take the lead against what it called an “unhealthy obsession” with standardized exams leading to an explosion of test coaching. Dean Briggs added, “The proliferation of test prep courses and tutoring for the SATs has been steadily adding stress to an already stressful application process. Further, we have become increasingly concerned that as more affluent students avail themselves of costly test preparation, they are gaining an unfair advantage over others.”


More than 700 colleges and universities now admit substantial numbers of their first year classes without considering SAT or ACT scores (see Examiner, Fall 2003). A complete list of “test score optional” institutions is on the web here.