AP versus non AP? Does the SAT writing test matter?
These were some of the question raised on the Get Schooled blog last week. (By the way, get ready for the release of the state SAT scores Tuesday. AJC.com is hoping to get the district scores up soon after they are released to DOE.)
I asked Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management, to look at the blog postings and offer some guidance.
Here is her thoughtful response:
Let me start by cautioning your readers to remember that one person’s experience at a school, at some time in the past, may not be the best example for their own planning. It is always best to get current information from the college that you are considering as criteria may change, circumstances are often different in ways that are not easily apparent, and sometimes just wrong information is stated from a well intended individual.
Assuming that readers will seek out for themselves from official sources just what is considered important in that school’s admission criteria, I want to only make a couple of general statements and then respond regarding UGA and our admission criteria.
Regarding the use of writing in the SAT, many studies were done over the last 24 months as adequate time and critical mass of test takers provided information which could be used to determine if the addition of the writing portion of the SAT improved the test’s ability to assist colleges in making good admission decisions. (Remember that the SAT writing section is made up of more than just the actual essay).
In addition to being part of a review of over 100 different colleges and universities in the U.S. completed by the College Board to see if the writing section added to the SAT’s ability to predict success, UGA faculty in the Economics Department completed a study, as did the Office of Admissions.
All three studies (two of them independent from the College Board review) showed that adding the writing section improved our ability to predict success at UGA, but only as the test is combined with high school GPA and rigor of curriculum.
After careful review by our Faculty Admissions Committee, UGA began using the writing section of both the SAT and the ACT in every admissions review this past year. But has long been our philosophy, the standardized test is carefully weighed with the high school GPA and rigor of curriculum, not as a stand along component.
Regarding the posts on AP classes and GPA, if you ask any admissions officer they will want to enroll students who take the most rigorous classes available and do well in them. But schools do look at AP/IB/Honors, etc differently. At UGA, we do consider the rigor of the courses taken by the student in relation to the environment where the student is taking classes as part of our admissions review. Not every high school has the same resources to offer Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes.
I hope that any of your posters who are interested in how the University of Georgia makes admissions decisions will take a few minutes to review the information that we make available on our Web site.
This site includes full explanation of how UGA uses factors in freshman admissions with clear examples such as:
GPA and rigor of curriculum weigh roughly three to two to standardized tests in predicting academic success at UGA. Effectively, this means that a student with a 4.0 GPA in a superior curriculum of Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses might be admitted with an SAT score at or below 1000. Yet, another student with a 3.0 GPA and an SAT score of 1400 might not be admitted, if the student opts for no more than a standard college prep curriculum with few if any Honors, AP or IB courses.
Additionally, Senior Associate Director David Graves has started a blog on our Web site for students and families and has addressed issues similar to some of those raised by the posters. They may want to review what David has written.
Thanks, Nancy G. McDuff
Associate Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Management
The University of Georgia