R.I. CATHOLIC COLLEGE GUIDE

Salve Regina makes SAT/ACT scores optional

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NEWPORT—The queen of RI’s Catholic colleges has just declared that SAT/ACT scores will no longer be required for incoming freshman. As of Fall 2011, Salve Regina University will accept students regardless of whether or not they have taken a standardized test.

“The decision to go test-optional was made after careful monitoring of both national and institutional data and also the national debate on the role that standardized tests play in our profession,” said Dr. Laura M. Oliveira, Salve’s vice president for Enrollment.

“This will not have a major impact on the way that our Admissions staff review applications as we already carefully consider a number of factors and place primary emphasis on the student's performance in high school. It is our hope that by going test-optional we will encourage a broader range of strong high school students to consider Salve Regina.”

Along with the ACT (American College Testing), the Scholastic Assessment Test or SAT occupies a familiar place in the country’s consciousness. The SAT is probably the most commonly used "high-stakes" test in the nation, and has been taken over the past four decades by most students interested in applying for college admission. However, it has fast been losing popularity due to recent research.

“The fact that so many New England Catholic colleges and universities have gone test-optional is a testament to the attention that we all provide to each individual student, Dr. Oliveira notes.”

Salve joins Providence College in eschewing Standardized Test Scores. PC nixed the requirement in 2006 as their website explains: “First, our research has confirmed that the combination of the strength of a student’s high school curriculum and the grades received are the strongest predictors of academic success in college. Second, students often believe a low test score rules out their chances for admission. In keeping with Providence College's mission of serving students from diverse backgrounds, this policy encourages all students who have achieved success in high school to strongly consider Providence College.”

Salve Regina now echoes this statement for their students. If applicants feel their test scores help demonstrate their academic ability, they may submit them, but they are no longer necessary for acceptance.

All eight Ivy League universities, however, still require either SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission. For these schools, the SAT/ACT are looked upon as a necessary evil.

“While the standardized tests are flawed, the majority of schools still use them because they are a way of testing students at the same level across the county, with everyone taking the same exam,” says Dr. Robert Franek, the Princeton Review’s author of “The Best 373 Colleges.”

Nevertheless, representatives from Salve note that faculty and school counselors have been supportive and hope that this will increase applications from diverse populations.

Colleen Emerson, dean of undergraduate admissions, reassures the public that the university’s staff will continue to review applications as thoroughly as they have done in the past.

“Our best applicants have always been those who have challenged themselves to go beyond the minimum requirements,” which now no longer include standardized testing.”