The education reporter at USA Today, Mary Beth Marklein, reported yesterday on her blog that ETS has developed a new test or tool for gathering more, better, and more consistent information about applicants to college and graduate school. The idea is to assess more qualitative aspects of an applicant’s preparedness for academic study. The focus at first is upon graduate school, but the plan at ETS is to roll out the test for use in undergraduate admissions within the next few years.
The basic idea is that students who sign up for the test are asked to name five people (usually professors or supervisors) to evaluate them on six criteria: 1) knowledge and creavity, 2) teamwork, 3) communication skills, 4) resilience, 5) planning and organization, and 6) ethics and integrity. ETS then generates a report that reflects the opinion of these five reviewers.
I admit to some skepticism about a new admissions test, but I do like the fact that this test is actually a way to bring some rigor and consistency to letters of recommendation, to increase the inputs from two reference to five, and to give evaluators the opportunity to comment on important factors (like resilience and ethics) that may have more to do with a student’s success in academia than sheer brain power.
It will be important to follow the development and implementation of this new test over the next few years.
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