An August 31 story in the New York Times titled "Students' Paths to Small Colleges Can Bypass SAT" looks at the reasons that a growing number of nationally known liberal arts colleges are making submission of the SAT optional.
According to the page-one story by Tamar Lewin:
"It is still far too early to sound the death knell, but for many small liberal arts colleges, the SAT may have outlived its usefulness.
"Since Bowdoin and Bates dropped their testing requirements decades ago, more than a fourth of U.S. News & World Report's Top 100 liberal arts colleges have made admissions exams optional, and new ones are joining the list at a quickening pace.
"The new colleges include Mount Holyoke, Middlebury, Hamilton, Union, and Dickinson. In recent months, George Mason, Providence College, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges have also become test-optional."
Mount Holyoke went SAT optional in 2001. This fall, the College will complete a full assessment of the effects of the decision by looking at submission patterns and the academic success of submitters and non-submitters. All indications are that there is no difference in the success rates of students who choose to furnish scores and those who do not. At the same time, the policy has opened the College gates to many exceptional students for whom standardized tests are a significant roadblock.
Mount Holyoke's vice president for enrollment and college relations discussed the reasons behind Mount Holyoke's SAT-optional policy in the Times article:
"We hope that now that there are more test-optional schools, students will think about not taking it, and putting their time and money into other activities, like music or writing or community service," said Jane B. Brown, vice president for enrollment at Mount Holyoke, which dropped the SAT requirement in 2001. "We hope they will have more interesting lives."