When Yale University recently announced that it will no longer require applicants to submit an essay score, it joined other elite schools in what has become a disturbing trend (“Another big-name university drops SAT/ACT essay requirement,” The Washington Post, Jun. 1). Although admissions officers say that writing is an indispensable skill, their words ring hollow in light of their new policies.
The only possible rationale for their decision is that timed writing does not permit applicants to demonstrate their true ability. When I was working on my M.S. in journalism at UCLA, professors told us that the ability to write under pressure was only one indication of competence. Most reflective writing requires thought that cannot easily be expressed when time is of the essence.
Short of that caveat, I maintain that colleges and universities are hypocritical. If they genuinely believe that the ability to put one’s thoughts on paper is so important, then they have to demand evidence. In short, they need to assess that wherewithal. Multiple-choice items are no substitute. Both the SAT and ACT would be receptive since it means additional income for them.
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