We live in a rankings obsessed society. We rank cities, professional athletes, students and even our nation’s premier institutions – colleges and universities. Which is why it makes sense that it was such big news when US News & World Reports released their 2014 ranking of the top US colleges and universities. Looking at the list there weren’t many surprises; schools like Harvard, Stanford and Princeton continued to occupy a place near the top of the list. What might be of greater interest is the way the rankings’ methodology has changed.
More weight was given to SAT and ACT scores in this year’s rankings. According to a blog by Robert Morse, Director of Data Research for U.S. News & World Report, “the weight of SAT and ACT scores rises from 50 percent to 65 percent”. On the other hand, high school class standing has been dropped from 40% to 25%, to highlight the decreasing importance of class rank, which many students don’t even report on their transcripts.
The increased weight of SAT and ACT scores within the rankings is due to the fact that colleges are stressing the importance of high admissions test scores, a trend also reflected by the admissions officers polled in NACAC’s 2012 “State of College Admission” report. NACAC’s 2011 SOCA report states the following, “The top factors in the admission decision were (in order): grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, standardized admission test scores, and overall high school grade point average.”
What are the implications of these revised rankings for students? The major implication of this change is that SAT and ACT test scores continue to matter. While some schools are moving away from using standardized tests to measure student performance, many others are only increasing their emphasis on the minimum SAT and ACT scores required for admission. As annoying as it may be, it’s important for students to do what it takes to ace the test!
The good news is that students can improve their scores with regular practice. Having the opportunity to get familiar with SAT questions before the test helps students stay calm and take the test with increased confidence. Practice also allows students to figure out how to answer questions quickly. One of the biggest obstacles of the SAT/ACT is the race against the clock to finish the test on time!
According to primary research* conducted by TestRocker Inc, students rated ‘increases confidence’ and ‘clears up hazy concepts’ as their top criteria when selecting a test prep service. We created TestRocker to do just that! In fact our students have seen up to a 400 point improvement on the SAT. Bottom line is its important to start preparing early, and preparation is the key to increasing confidence.
Don’t forget to leave us a comment. What do you think of the change in methodology?
*Research was conducted via GMI research with 601 respondents to our survey
Image Sources: abovethelaw.com, US News & World Reports