Worcester Polytechnic Institute announced today that it would no longer require standardized tests for undergraduate admissions. Citing the lack of predictive ability in terms of student success carried by tests like the SAT and ACT, WPI became the first technical university to abandon this requirement. WPI faculty have collected extensive data on incoming freshman classes for several years, focusing on standardized test scores and Myers-Briggs Type Index (a test focusing on learning styles) and correlated those data with student graduation rates and grades while at WPI.
While WPI will continue require that standardized test scores be submitted prior to matriculation, they will only be used to continue the data collection efforts and validate this approach.
According to President Denis Berkey,
"Internal studies have found that SAT scores comprise the least predictive element of a student’s success at WPI. High school course selection and grades are consistently the best indicators of future success at WPI. Our most successful students typically stand out for their high motivation level, their willingness to take initiative, and their creativity in solving problems. The option to submit documentation of actual academic achievement in place of the SAT or ACT will help the Admissions staff better gauge students’ abilities to succeed in WPI’s unique academic program."
Students will instead be able to "submit research papers, science projects, or other indicators of academic achievement in lieu of standardized test scores." The goal is to encourage innovative thinkers who may not score well on standardized tests but otherwise have a mind for independent research and academic freedom to apply to WPI. Again, according to President Berkey,
"The nation badly needs to increase the number of students graduating with degrees in engineering and science, and this change will respond to that need."
By way of disclosure, I am a graduate student at WPI in the Mathematical Sciences Department. This post was compiled based on a letter provided to students yesterday as well as a recent lecture on learning styles research at WPI.