From the Vice Provost
Okay, so humor me.
- Q. Choose the best definition of “adumbrate.”
- a. To outline
- b. To symbolize
- c. To never use obscure words when more familiar language is appropriate.
If you answered c. (like me), there is every chance you and your students are going to like the redesigned SAT. On the other hand, you and students (and certainly the for-profit test prep industry) might be understandably concerned about the unknown.
Change can be unsettling, but after working with both the College Board and ACT over many years, I have confidence in their assessments. Unlike many state-level assessments, the SAT and ACT are designed by some of the best measurement scientists in the world and rigorously tested for both validity and reliability. With their continual review of high school curricula, millions of administrations each year across the U.S. and beyond, combined with annual studies on their predictive ability for college success, these are the most tested tests in the world.
It’s also exciting that the playing field is being leveled by the College Board’s partnership for free test practice with Kahn Academy. A recent national survey from Eduventures showed that over 25% of college-bound students nation-wide have already used this service. The Khan Academy’s approach, including the use of short videos, appeals to today’s students and motivates them to take control of their own learning – what a great life skill! We know that many of your students are already using Kahn for help in their coursework, we hope that you’ll encourage them to use their test practice and college planning resources.
And since you can find everything you need to know about the SAT on the College Board website, I’m not going to talk to you about test details. But it may interest you to know that one of the sites where the revised SAT was field tested included our own campus. In fall 2014 several hundred of our new freshmen took the revised test and agreed to have their first year grades sent to the College Board to assess whether or not it added to the predictive validity of college outcomes – which it did! Taking part in that study was fascinating for our staff and we were delighted with the results that the College Board shared with us.
You can also have confidence that at Purdue we use the SAT and ACT as only one of many factors in our holistic application and scholarship reviews. We care much more about what a student has accomplished over four years than how they perform in four hours. We still do not have a preference for one test over the other, but the ACT or SAT provide one more arrow in our quiver as we evaluate whether we believe students can succeed in our academic programs. One of the reasons Purdue reviews applications holistically is because “grit” is revealing. The context of the high school experience is significant. Motivation and determination can narrow the gap for those with fewer privileges.
What You Need to Know
As your students sharpen their No. 2 pencils to prepare for the new SAT and/or the SAT this spring, here’s what you need to know:
- DO strongly encourage your students to test in the spring – juniors should NOT wait until next fall.
- As always, Purdue will use students’ best scores for both admission and scholarship decisions – no “penalty” for sending scores early in their education when subsequent scores are better. Use all free score reports – we only use the highest!
- Tell your students they CANNOT count on the scores from September and October sittings to be delivered to colleges to complete an application for any November 1 deadline. This includes Purdue’s November 1 scholarship and Honors College consideration deadline. Students must send an earlier score in advance and then know that, if sent promptly, scores from September sittings will catch up with their applications. We don’t review all apps on November 2, but those complete on November 1 will receive the highest priority.
- For the foreseeable future, Purdue will accept both the old and new SAT as well as the ACT.
- College Board is providing score-to-score conversions and concordance tools, which will give us year-to-year perspective during this transition.
- We no longer require an ACT or SAT writing score, which are now optional components of both tests.
- And just a reminder, test scores must be sent from the testing agency. We cannot accept scores on school transcripts, via email – and absolutely not from screenshots.
As always, thank you for your efforts on behalf of your students. If there is anything I or my colleagues can do to help students who are interested in Purdue, we’d love to help.
Vice Provost for Enrollment Management
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