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'Don't Stress the Test': Beloit College Makes ACT Score Optional

Alberto G.

Fall is the time of year when thousands of Wisconsin high schools will virtually lock themselves in a classroom on a Saturday morning and take one of two tests that have customarily helped or hindered the effort to get into college.

The ACT and the SAT have undergone some significant changes in recent years in an effort to be a more useful predictor of college success, but an increasing number of colleges and universities are becoming “test-optional” schools. These schools no longer require students to include test scores as part of their application process.

"The thought that a test that takes a few hours is going to be some major indicator of your potential as a person in those regards, I don't think is the right way to be thinking about it and I don't think students should be feeling that kind of pressure," says Beloit College's Vice President of Enrollment, Rob Mirabile.

Wisconsin's Beloit College is just one "test-optional" school that is straying away from the reliance on test scores to accept potential students.

"We need better ways, better methods for understanding whether someone's going to be happy at the college, and whether they're going to be able to thrive academically, socially, and otherwise," Mirabile explains.

Since Beloit is not following the traditional recruitment and application process, Mirabile explains that although their new process takes longer, the outcomes are more positive for the students and the school.

"With the move to test-optional we're saying there that we're going to take a fuller look at you, and we know that there's many students for whom test scores aren't the best representation of how they're going to perform in college and their abilities," he says.

Beloit's retention, graduation, and general satisfaction rates have been historically some of the highest in the industry as a whole according to Mirabile, even before implementing their test-optional application. In addition, the school announced this month the Wisconsin Distinguished Scholar program, offering top high school students $100,000 in scholarships over the course of their college career.

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.