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Wilson College adopts test-optional admissions policy

June 14, 2007

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Wilson College will join hundreds of other colleges nationwide in making standardized tests such as the SAT an optional part of its highly selective admissions process.

The test-optional policy, which was recently approved on a four-year trial basis by the Wilson faculty, will take effect with applicants for the spring and fall 2008 semesters.

The decision to change Wilson's admissions policy regarding standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT is based on a wealth of research and findings showing that the tests are not the best measure of a student's likelihood of college success, Wilson Director of Admissions Mary Ann Naso said in a news release.

"Standardized tests have never been a measure of motivation, creativity, leadership - all of the qualities you look for in a good student," Naso said. "All of the studies show that the best predictor for success in college is the high school transcript."

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To qualify for acceptance to Wilson without submitting standardized test scores, applicants will be required to have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher from a regionally accredited secondary school in a college preparatory curriculum that minimally includes:

· Four units of English

· Four units of history or civics

· Three units of math that include Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry

· Two units of natural science with labs

· Two units of one foreign language

If a student does not meet these requirements, or if she is home-schooled or from a country outside of the United States, standardized tests will remain part of Wilson's admissions criteria.

Lisa Woolley, associate professor of English who chairs the Wilson College faculty admissions and financial aid committee, said tests such as the SAT can unfairly penalize good students who may have been ill or distracted on the day of the four-hour exam, as well as those who simply don't perform well on standardized tests.

"We have the luxury of looking at student applications more holistically because we're small. We look carefully at their transcripts. They submit a writing sample and information about extracurricular activities. SAT scores are a part of the picture, but they really only represent one day's efforts," Woolley said in the release.

In addition, the advent of SAT and ACT prep courses - which prepare students to do well on the tests themselves - have made scores an unreliable measure of a student's knowledge and ability, and have put students who can't afford the courses or don't have access to them at a disadvantage, Wilson officials said.

Across the nation, more than 730 colleges have made the decision to become test-optional, including Dickinson, Gettysburg, Franklin and Marshall, and Messiah colleges in Pennsylvania.

The test-optional policy also will affect the way Wilson scholarships are awarded. Previously based on standardized test results, scholarships will now be based on a student's cumulative secondary school grade-point average in a college prep curriculum and class rank, college officials said.

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