Top US Schools Stop Requiring Essay Scores from Applicants

Category : Education/Family

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. waive / ˈweɪv / (v) – to stop requiring something

    The museum decided to waive its entrance fee, so anyone can now visit.

  2. standardized / ˈstændɚˌdaɪzd / (adj) – having similar basic parts or features

    Standardized exams require students to answer the same set of questions.

  3. shoulder / ˈʃoʊldɚ / (v) – to take on the responsibility for something

    I had to work while studying so that I can shoulder my expenses at school.

  4. mandatory / ˈmændəˌtori / (adj) – required

    Uniforms are mandatory in junior high school.

  5. complement / ˈkɑːmpləˌmɛnt / (v) – to complete or improve something

    The pictures in the book complement the text.


Read the text below.

Top US universities and colleges are waiving the essay requirement from standardized tests for student admission.

Stanford, Princeton, and Brown University are among the most recent schools to drop the essay requirement, following Harvard’s and Yale’s move early this year. To date, over 1,600 US colleges and universities no longer require essay test scores from the American College Testing (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

US universities usually consider scores from the ACT and SAT when admitting new students. With multiple-choice questions and an optional essay writing section, these tests examine the student’s capacity to accomplish college-level work.

Some schools cited the additional cost as one of the reasons behind their decision. They recognize that not all states and secondary schools shoulder the cost of taking the essay writing section of the ACT and SAT. Schools also admitted that students can be discouraged from applying to top schools where essay scores are mandatory.

In addition, some experts believe that the essay section is not effective in discovering students’ writing abilities. They emphasized that good written communication often relies on a complex process that cannot be done within the limited time given during tests. Recognizing this, some schools require students to submit personal or academic essays instead.

On another note, test developers reacted negatively to the schools’ decision. A spokesperson from College Board, a non-profit organization, argues that the essay section complements the multiple-choice part as students are required to exhibit critical thinking by writing about a given text. A representative from the ACT also said that the writing section can provide a reliable way to assess students’ writing abilities.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the schools’ decision to waive the essay section of the ACT/SAT? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, what requirement for college admission should be considered the most (e.g. academic records, standardized test scores)? Explain.

Discussion B

• What discourages students to apply to a university or college? Discuss.
• What are some ways to help students who are struggling to get admitted to a university or college (e.g. hold review classes, waive entrance application fees)? Explain.

Category : Education/Family