According to a joint research study by the Georgia State University, Brandeis University and the University of Missouri, retaking the SAT exam can lead to obtaining higher scores, which is beneficial for high school students applying for admission to 4-year undergraduate programs.
The research findings indicate that getting rid of the differences in the retake rates can help in closing up the income-based gap upto 10%, and the race-based gap upto 7% among the high school graduates enrolling for 4-year college degrees. At present, only around half of the candidates appearing for SAT choose to retake it, with the rates being lower among students coming from low income or minority backgrounds.
The study by Jonathan Smith (Georgia State economist), Joshua Goodman (Brandeis) and Oded Gurantz (Missouri), was done through performing statistical analysis on College Board data which represented 12 million U.S. students over an 8-year time span.
According to Jonathan Smith, this research is the first to provide causal evidence that retaking the SAT can lead to substantial improvements in the college enrollment rates, especially for students with initial low scores or those who are widely underrepresented in higher education. A way to reduce the differences in retake rates is to encourage or offer incentives to students for taking the SAT earlier during their high school. Smith said, “Our data suggest that earlier first takes are strongly associated with increased retaking rates. However, low-income students and underrepresented minority students are substantially more likely to first take the SAT in the 12th grade rather than in the 11th, so they have little opportunity to retake prior to college application deadlines.”
The research shows that changes in policies including increased transparency about registration fee waivers that can be availed by low-income students, implications of having higher scores in college admissions and SAT scoring, in general, are essential to reduce the income-based and race-based differences in college enrollment.
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“The impact of interventions to increase retaking rates depends heavily on the broader landscape of higher education policy,” says Smith. As an example, he explains that if colleges do not increase the number of slots available for enrollment, then for traditionally underrepresented students, a higher SAT score would only affect who enrols for the course, and not how many students enrol. He also mentions that in the absence of policies to expand per-pupil funding, even if college enrollment rates do increase, it might not result in increased rates of degree completion.
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