Catawba to test making SATs optional

  • Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013 10:51 a.m.

SALISBURY – Catawba College has launched a pilot program to make standardized tests optional in its admissions process. The program may have some positive effects for applicants who hope to enroll at the college in fall 2013.

Under the new guidelines, applicants with a weighted grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 or higher will not be required to submit SAT or ACT test scores. In lieu of the standardized tests, students will need to submit supplemental materials, including an extracurricular and leadership resume, as well as a personal statement. Full details of the program are available at http://www.catawba.edu/admissions/satpolicy.asp. Catawba, which operates using rolling admissions, is still accepting applications for its class of 2017.


Lois Williams, Catawba’s vice president of enrollment management, said the pilot program will offer benefits for students who do not score well on standardized tests and who believe that their scores do not accurately represent their academic abilities. “Students who feel that their SAT or ACT with writing scores are a good indicator of their academic abilities are encouraged to submit these for consideration in the admissions decision,” she said.

“But, our office wants to know about traits such as leadership, initiative and stick-to-itiveness that standardized tests don’t necessarily measure. In short, we want a well-rounded, diverse population of students whose true potential may not be gauged by a standard measure.”

The debate in higher education about the value of non-cognitive as opposed to cognitive measures of college readiness has been intensifying in recent years. Admissions offices, like the one at Catawba, are evaluating whether standardized tests are truly the best and most reliable indicator of a student’s propensity for academic success. There are many other notable institutions that have chosen to waive test scores for this reason (see www.fairtest.org for a list of other colleges and universities).

“Standardized tests can be a double-edged sword for colleges and universities. They may cause some institutions to rule out perfectly capable students, or students to rule themselves out because of failing to meet a minimum test score requirement. At Catawba, curriculum and grades, coupled with extracurricular activities, writing ability, and evidence of character and creative talent continue to be the best evaluative measures for admission decisions,” Williams concluded.

Again, students are welcome to submit test scores if they believe they are a good measure of their talents and abilities. However, if you do not believe your test scores appropriately reflect your academic strength, then you do not need to submit them until you have been admitted and decide to enroll at Catawba. If a student applies under the test-optional policy, these scores will be kept separate from the rest of the admissions materials and do not need to be submitted until the applicant commits to Catawba. Below find the appropriate SAT and ACT codes for Catawba to use when taking these standardized tests.

SAT — www.collegeboard.org, Catawba College CEEB: 5103.

ACT — www.act.org, Catawba College code: 3080.

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