The assessment of reasoning ability is judged by colleges and universities in large measure on the results of student entrance exams, primarily the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) or the American College Testing (ACT) exams. According to Hawks and Winquist (2006), the ômajority of AmericaÆs 3,600 colleges and universities accept scores from either testö (p. 3). Taking the SAT or ACT is a mandatory requirement for college hopefuls, a ônecessary rite of passage,ö according to Hawks and Winquist (2006), for any hoping to enter a U.S. college or university (p. 1). Despite the enormous weight currently given to college entrance exams, they are biased, undermine teaching and student development, lower student aspiration and it is time for them to go.
The most potent reason for abandoning the use of standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT is because of widespread research that demonstrates the tests are biased based on demographic variables like race, income level, and gender. One SAT question that referred to an ôoarsmanö and a ôregattaö is used to show it is biased toward white males, with 53% of them knowing the answer compared to 22% of blacks, because of the reference ôto a sport popular only among those of relatively high incomeö (SAT, 2006, 5-6). A question about stockholders and dividends is a similar example.
The SAT exam also needs to go because it promotes a form of teaching that undermines student development. Knowing that the ultimate goal of college-bound students is doing well on the SAT or ACT, teachers often gear the curriculum to what is deemed important on standardized tests. A concept known as ôteaching to the test,ö critics of college entrance exams complain that teachers shortchange students who cannot keep up with those who are college bound (Bushweller, 1997, p. 1). More importantly, these tests often revolve around mathematics and verbal skills.