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The Dartmouth
February 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Letter to the Editor: Standardized Testing

Standardized tests may be necessary, but they won’t improve diversity.

Re: Muller: Standardized Tests Don’t Deserve Our Hate

Aidan Muller ’27 makes the point that SATs predict college success well for both white and minority students. He concludes by suggesting that the admissions office should reinstitute the requirement that applicants submit either SATs or ACTs.

Muller writes that the “most critical benefit of standardized tests is their ability to promote diversity on college and university campuses.”

To support that proposition, Muller cites a recent editorial in The New York Times written by David Leonhardt. Leonhardt uses the example of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which brought back a testing requirement and subsequently admitted its most diverse class ever.

The fly in the ointment is that neither Muller nor Leonhardt address the likelihood that the Supreme Court’s recent decision to outlaw consideration of race as an admissions factor will substantially hamper admissions departments’ ability to use standardized tests to help minorities.

White applicants on average score roughly 130 points higher on the SAT than Hispanic applicants and 170 points higher than African American applicants. Within that context, Dartmouth and other selective institutions were likely to have been more impressed by a Black applicant with two 650s than a white one with two 700s and, therefore, would have given the former student an admissions advantage. In a colorblind world, admissions officers will no longer be able to consider test scores in this context, and these two individuals will merely become two contextless applicants with scores of 1300 and 1400.

While standardized testing may well be a fine bellwether of college success, it is difficult to imagine how requiring a test on which non-Asian minorities regularly score lower than their white counterparts will enable the admissions department to increase representation of non-Asian minorities.

Patrick Mattimore is a member of the Class of 1972. Letters to the Editor represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.