April 2012 Archives

College Admission Tests: What For?

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While reading Chapter 9 in our psych books, which covers intelligence and IQ testing, I couldn't help but take a particular interest in the section about college admission tests, such as the ACT and SAT. Since we are students at the U, it is safe to assume all of us have taken the ACT, SAT, or maybe even both. This section stood out to me because I am a firm believer that these tests do nothing but cause extra stress, pressure, and cost us money, without actually producing any significant results. There are so many factors that have to be taken into account, I just don't see how these tests can be trusted to accurately measure anyone's success rate. They are a snapshot of one day in a student's life, using material that they may or not have learned in high school. In addition, they leave test-takers with limited time to complete the questions, which seems a little unfair considering these tests are supposedly measuring our success in the future.
Psychologists designed these tests to forecast performance in undergraduate courses. Yet, according to our books, the correlations between these tests and college grades are often below .5 and in a few cases close to zero. Although these tests tend to predict first-year grades at reasonable levels, they generally do a worse job of predicting performance in later years of college. With facts like this, a person has to wonder: What is the point?

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