Every so often I receive a call or email from someone who argues that test scores shouldn’t count or are given too much weight. There is even an organization devoted to getting rid of standardized testing, or in its own words "to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial."
I believe it’s a noble goal, and I know Fair Test disputes the kind of data I am about to bring, but reality for now is that tests count, particularly on the graduate level.
The Daily Pennsylvanian cites research that appears in Science showing that testing is a better predictor of graduate school performance than undergraduate transcripts:
"A study of over 200,000 graduate-school-bound students found that entrance exams like the MCAT and GRE are better predictors of future performance in graduate school than college transcripts.
"The study was conducted by University of Minnesota psychology professor Nathan Kuncel and was published last week in Science.
"But while the study is the most comprehensive one to date, comparing seven different graduate-school admissions tests, school deans say the study doesn’t tell them anything they don’t already know.
"Penn Law Dean Michael Fitts said the correlation between good LSATs – the admissions test required for law school – and success in law school is why the tests have been so important for so long.
"’Performance in standardized tests is something you take very seriously,’ he said."
At Wednesday’s Cornell Johnson waitlist chat, the predictive value of testing came up in the following exchange.
george (Feb 28, 2007 2:24:20 PM)
I have a very strong application, aside maybe from GMAT score. You say that GMAT score is among the top reason why someone is wait-listed, but there is so much more that makes for a good candidate. I’m concerned that Cornell is filling its class with experts in math but little other demonstrable achievements, and it isn’t reflecting well on the program.
RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:25:20 PM)
George thanks for the comments. I respectfully disagree with you. And let me address each point you raise.
RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:26:09 PM)
GMAT is important as we find that 50% of all students in academic trouble have scored 61% or less on the quant side of the GMAT.
RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:26:45 PM)
Why would we want to bring someone in to fail?
RandallSawyerCornell (Feb 28, 2007 2:27:35 PM)
We are not filling our class with experts in math–we are filling our class with students who are capable of surviving the core, esp quant core and are well rounded students.
I realize that testing is not a perfect predictor of academic performance. There are people who do terribly on tests and perform well in school. The tests fail them, in more ways than one. Those of you who belong to that category should bring evidence that you have performed in the past at a level above that predicted by earlier test scores.That’s your best hope.
But when applying to most colleges and graduate programs, realize that the majority of admissions officials view the scores as predictive. That’s reality. Those test scores count.