Magazine article University Business

New SAT Writing Section under Fire: Some IHEs Are Ignoring the New SAT Writing Scores

Magazine article University Business

New SAT Writing Section under Fire: Some IHEs Are Ignoring the New SAT Writing Scores

Article excerpt

Of all the nuances of the new SAT, it seems that the writing section, and in particular the essay portion, is garnering the most notoriety. The score, which tests students' ability to write under pressure, a skill that is often utilized in university settings, is being called unfair by at least three IHEs, including Grinnell College (Iowa), Franklin & Marshall College (Pa.), and Georgetown University (D.C.).

"I think it poses great access issues for Low-income students," says Jim Sumner, dean of admissions and financial aid at Grinnell College. Sumner is concerned because a good portion of Grinnell's applicants take only the ACT, which requires a "hefty additional fee" for its writing portion, he says. "If we are going to accept writing scores for the SAT (which has the fee built in) then we must require them for the ACT too."

Sumner says this added fee just makes the college application even more expensive and restrictive. "Why put up another roadblock for Low-income students?" he says. While there is a fee-waiver system in place for these exams, Sumner says, it's "only the more sophisticated families that are aware of these things."

Furthermore, there's concern that needy students will be further disadvantaged by their Lack of access to essay coaches and prep courses, of which their more affluent peers will use to prepare for the exam. "I'm most concerned with this correlation between Low-income students and Low SAT writing scores," says Dennis Trotter, vice president of enrollment management for Franklin & Marshall. …

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