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SAT optional policies: Do they influence graduate quality, selectivity or diversity?


  • Saboe, Matt
  • Terrizzi, Sabrina


Despite many conversations regarding the applicability and relevance of the SAT as a valid admissions tool, there is limited evidence regarding the effects of test-optional policies on various aspects of an institution’s effectiveness and the collegiate experiences within each institution. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) coupled with a difference-in-difference analysis, we find that test-optional policies have very limited effects. We find SAT optional policies to have no significant effect on diversity or enrolled student quality. The only statistically significant effect we find is a brief increase in the number of applicants in response to the new policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Saboe, Matt & Terrizzi, Sabrina, 2019. "SAT optional policies: Do they influence graduate quality, selectivity or diversity?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 13-17.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:174:y:2019:i:c:p:13-17
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2018.10.017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2008. "Heteroskedasticity-Robust Standard Errors for Fixed Effects Panel Data Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 155-174, January.
    2. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2005. "Exact and Approximate Stepdown Methods for Multiple Hypothesis Testing," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 94-108, March.
    3. Robinson, Michael & Monks, James, 2005. "Making SAT scores optional in selective college admissions: a case study," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 393-405, August.
    4. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    5. Romano, Joseph P. & Wolf, Michael, 2016. "Efficient computation of adjusted p-values for resampling-based stepdown multiple testing," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 38-40.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dessein, Wouter & Frankel, Alexander & Kartik, Navin, 2023. "Test-Optional Admissions," CEPR Discussion Papers 18090, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Finger, Claudia & Solga, Heike, 2023. "Test Participation or Test Performance: Why Do Men Benefit from Test-Based Admission to Higher Education?," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 96(4), pages 344-366.
    3. Isabella Dobrescu & Alberto Motta & Richard Holden & Adrian Piccoli, 2021. "Cultural Context in Standardized Tests," Discussion Papers 2021-08, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    4. Nguyen, Hieu, 2020. "Free college? Assessing enrollment responses to the Tennessee Promise program," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
    5. Bleemer, Zachary, 2023. "Affirmative action and its race-neutral alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 220(C).

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    More about this item


    SAT optional; Selectivity; Higher education; Enrollment quality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions


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