Unconfirmed chatter from the list serv of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling says that Washington University in Saint Louis and Amherst College are using the best SUBSCORES from multiple attempts at the ACT to use the students best total score across multiple tests. If true, this is a big departure – generally colleges and universities have all (with VERY rare exceptions) used the best SAT math and reading score no matter how many times you took the test to get the best total. The ones that use the writing test (which, in case you’ve missed my rants, is just the old SAT II writing test dressed up – testing how fast, not how well, you can write) also take the best score there.
Colleges usually give a nice reason for this practice. If you’re at a presentation they’ll say something like, “We use your best score because we CARE about YOU.” Awwwww – don’t you just feel all warm and fuzzy?
The real reason we do it, of course, is that the higher your scores, the better we look – in the rankings, the guidebooks, etc etc. The ACT has, for some strange reason, been immune to this, probably because the people who design the test would say things like, “aggregating the results of subscores across multiple sittings has demonstrated a low relationship with outcomes in multivariate regression analysis and blah blah numbers big words that we don’t even use on the ACT and statistical stuff you can’t find anywhere in our math section, so we say don’t do it.” Fortunately, admissions marketing has never let the experts stand in the way of a good propaganda tool (did I mention the SAT writing test already? Well then, never mind). And so, with the mention (without confirmation) that a couple of schools are aggregating best subscores, I expect most to quickly follow suit. In fact, I’m off to start recalculating our scores! Be seeing you.
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