Others have resisted requiring the essays because they doubted the exercise revealed much.[Princeton and Stanford drop essay-testing rule] It is a remarkable and humbling fall for an initiative that arose little more than a dozen years ago with the hope of reshaping college admission testing, offering a tool to measure student potential on a massive scale, using just pencil, a prompt and lined sheets of paper.About 1.2 million took the essay option with the SAT, or 70 percent of that exam’s total group.
That’s one reason Duke also is one of the few to require an SAT or ACT essay score.
Last week, however, Guttentag said Duke’s policy is under review.
The prompt presents a complex issue, gives students three perspectives on it and asks them to develop their own take, with reference to one or more of the other viewpoints.
The essay does not factor into the main ACT score of a maximum 36.
Princeton and Stanford universities last week became the latest to end the mandate, following Dartmouth College and Harvard and Yale universities.
Those schools are dropping the requirement because they wanted to ensure that the extra cost of essay testing did not drive applicants away.“It is standardized, comparable, and reliable and can provide a lot of useful information for improvement.” Stanford’s dean of admission and financial aid, Richard Shaw, said in an email that his university will “strongly recommend” essay scores even though it will no longer require them.[Stanford dean: ultralow admission rate nothing to brag about] Most public universities, including the state flagships in Maryland and Virginia, do not require essay scores.Others do it on the advice of counselors or parents who want students to have the essay scores just in case they apply to one of the few colleges that require or recommend them.Without doubt, the essay tests inject more anxiety into the annual frenzy over selective college admissions.The essay was retained, but the time for it was lengthened to 50 minutes. The format calls for students to read a given text — one example the College Board posted online is a short piece exploring the problem of light pollution in the night sky — and then write an analysis of how the author builds an argument to persuade the audience.The College Board said it is meant to resemble a “typical college writing assignment.” [New SAT scores sow confusion over how to tell a good result] The ACT’s essay, optional from the start, is a 40-minute assignment scored separately from the other sections of the test.It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work.But it's also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time.“I guarantee you it’s on the way out entirely,” said Charles Deacon, dean of admissions at Georgetown University.A longtime skeptic of the timed-writing exercises, Deacon said he never considers the essay scores when reading applications. But Janet Rapelye, Princeton’s dean of admission , said she finds the scores helpful and sometimes reads the essay that yielded the score (colleges can view them) when she wants to know more about an applicant. But the university dropped the requirement, she said, out of concern that testing costs or logistical issues would deter some students from applying.