Asian Americans in elite colleges would rise by 2 percentage points if admission is only based on tests, study says

Editor’s Note: The headline of this article has been updated from its original version to say that the number of Asian American students would increase, not decrease if tests alone were used in college admissions.

Nearly a quarter of Asian Americans accepted to elite colleges would no longer qualify if their acceptances were based on tests alone, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW).

Key findings: The study, which ran statistical simulations of admissions decisions, found “no strong evidence” of discrimination against Asian Americans in 91 of the country’s most selective colleges and universities.

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  • While Asian American enrollment in these institutions has remained stagnant over the past decade, the proportion of Asian American students who received high test scores has also remained “remarkably consistent.”
  • If standardized test scores were the only factor evaluated in admissions, 21% of Asian American students attending these institutions would be displaced, along with 39% of non-Asian American students.
  • A test-only admissions system would also only increase Asian American enrollment by up to 2%, a “marginal” gain, according to Georgetown University’s CEW. 

Why this matters: The study comes as Asian Americans continue to be divided on the subject of affirmative action in colleges and universities.

  • Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which claims that Asian American applicants are discriminated against during admissions, has sued several institutions in recent years, most notably Harvard University.
  • The case against Harvard has reached the Supreme Court, which postponed action in June and asked for the Biden administration to weigh in.
  • Georgetown University’s CEW has claimed that since “the number of seats at Harvard is relatively stable,” Asian American and Pacific Islander applicants’ chances of studying at Harvard “would decrease more quickly than those of the general population” if said applicants were “disproportionately excluded from Harvard as their total enrollment at four-year colleges doubled.”

The full report is available here.

Featured Image via Whoisjohngalt (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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