Thursday, May 19, 2022

MSU makes SAT, ACT scores optional for admission, using calculated GPA review process

April 28, 2022
Photo by Maddie Monroe | The State News

Michigan State will not require incoming students to submit SAT or ACT scores during the admissions process until at least 2026, Executive Director of Admissions John Ambrose said. 

“That decision was made at the beginning,” Ambrose said. “We just didn't make a big announcement about it, but we knew that we will continue to be test optional. We wanted to gather test-optional information that would include graduation and retention information so that we can make a better-informed decision about how to move forward.”

The university will reassess the decision and decide what to do moving forward. 

“We may not make a final decision about test-optional until maybe 2027,” Ambrose said. “It may not happen directly in 2026, that's just the last year of commitment for being test optional, so we don't have to go back and forth looking for approval. We know that we're going to be there. We'll continue to look at data and outcomes.”

During the admissions process, MSU is now using a calculated GPA based on historical data of students who have matriculated to the university from a particular high school. 

If there is not enough, or any, historical data from the high school a student is applying from, Ambrose said MSU will use an average calculated GPA based on all students' performance. He said the calculated GPA review process takes into account students who matriculate from the same high school and what their first semester GPA was at MSU.

“We felt that that information was as trustworthy as using a standardized test score,” Ambrose said. “In some cases, some might argue that it might even be more trustworthy than the actual standardized test score because the data comes from, specifically, Michigan State University.”

Ambrose said the university is not requiring any additional information from applicants if they opt to apply without submitting standardized test scores. 

In the last two years, Ambrose said more than 50 percent of applicants chose to apply test-optional. Of the 8000 students in last year’s cohort, more than 50% enrolled test-optional during the admissions process.

Since every high school is not equal in the curriculum and amount of college preparation they offer to students, Ambrose said MSU knows there will potentially be a wide range of standardized test scores.

“We're able now to hone in directly on a student's performance at that high school and what it likely would be their performance at Michigan State, based on other students who come from that particular high school,” Ambrose said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 cohort was the first full class with the option to submit SAT and ACT scores, Ambrose said.

“The group that we worked with in 2020, that was a little bit hybrid because the announcement about COVID didn’t happen until March,” Ambrose said. “By that time, we had a good proportion of the students had already been able to take the test. It was really that spring where the rising seniors were unable to take the exam, so we’ll be able to use part of 2020, but most of it really will stem from the 2021 classes.”

MSU will use the data collected last year to begin evaluating how well students performed academically, Ambrose said.

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