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Does Amherst Misreport Its SAT Data?

I am probably wrong about this (corrections welcome!), but there seems to be a non-zero chance that Amherst is misreporting its SAT data and that, therefore, Williams should be alone at #1 in the US News rankings. Consider the data for the class of 2011 on what percentages of the class took the SAT and the ACT.

Williams: SAT: 95% and ACT: 18%. Total: 113%.
Amherst: SAT: 76% and ACT: 23%. Total: 99%.

The Williams numbers are not unusual for this year. For the class of 2002, we have SAT: 99% and ACT: 15% for a total of 114%. And that makes sense. The SAT is now truly a national (even international) exam for those high school students thinking of elite schools. Although many/most of those schools will also accept the ACT, it is now common for academically gifted students in the South and Midwest (ACT strongholds) to take the SAT as well. That pattern explains why almost every single member of the Williams class of 2011 took the SAT. (Why many students also take the ACT is a topic for another day.)

Is it really plausible that 111 of the 474 students in the Amherst class of 2011 did not take the SAT? No. (The only plausible explanation that I can think of is that Amherst is now drawing from a signficantly different student population that Williams. Yet that seems highly unlikely and I have never heard of such a tendency. Has anyone?) If (many of) those students did take the SAT, is it plausible that Amherst does not have access to their scores? No. (I think that Amherst requires SAT subject tests and that any student who took such subject tests and reported them to Amherst would have to allow Amherst to see her SAT scores as well.) If Amherst does have access to their SAT scores, then why doesn’t it report those scores in its Common Dataset? And, even more interesting, are the SAT scores for those students particularly low?

Comments welcome. (I especially hope that data-maven HWC will chime in.) Are other elite schools more like Williams or Amherst? (At Swarthmore (pdf), 95% of the members of the class of 2011 took the SAT.) Without looking at the data yet, one hypothesis would be that Amherst reports only ACT scores (and not SAT scores) for its weaker students. That would cause its ACT scores to be lower (relative to its SAT scores) than those for other elite schools. Do we see that?

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#1 Comment By Dick Swart On August 24, 2008 @ 9:38 am


#2 Comment By Dick Swart On August 24, 2008 @ 9:44 am

Further to WTF: GAL!

#3 Comment By frank uible On August 24, 2008 @ 9:53 am

David: Read your first sentence. I think that you have one too few or one too many negatives in it, or alternatively I don’t understand it.

#4 Comment By jeffz On August 24, 2008 @ 9:56 am

It’s fair to assume that Amherst is reporting the SAT scores for the students who submit that test, and the ACT scores for the students who submit that test. Since they don’t require BOTH to be submitted, but rather either, it makes sense that they’d only report one … I guess Williams reports both but I don’t see anything dishonest about not reporting something the school does not ask students to submit. In any event, it is doubtful it would affect the US News rankings in any event … if the SAT average went down, say, 10 or 20 points, that is only one fraction of only one portion of selectivity rating, which is only one small portion of the rankings in the first place. I’m sure the difference, if any, would be negligible.

#5 Comment By frank uible On August 24, 2008 @ 10:04 am

David: Mea culpa – I reread the sentence, and I get it, albeit structurally stilted.

#6 Comment By Soph Mom On August 24, 2008 @ 10:11 am


You are sounding a bit like Hillary here…

Indeed with a few minor tweaks you’d have a pretty clever parody.

#7 Comment By David Broadband On August 24, 2008 @ 11:09 am

Whether ACT or SAT tests project the qualitative characteristics you imply is something I do not understand from the perspective of “stronger or weaker” students. The rankings question baffles since one has to prudently examine the basket of variables taken into account.

One student has a photographic memory, easily grades a 4.0, presumably an 800 SAT, yet this student lacks the creative powers of abstract reasoning. Other students of note have different learning patterns and variable approaches to tasking.

I have met students who play Bach piano pieces without flaw technically yet do not know how to interpret the music. Why do they lack the intuitive grasp that is in some individuals innate and in other entirely lacking.

The question of intelligence versus the ability to contribute creatively and meaningfully to a society when “picking” students for an education remains, from my perspective, elusive. The question of whether Amherst misreports its SAT data remains “milquetoasty” to say the least.

#8 Comment By 1980 On August 24, 2008 @ 12:02 pm

I don’t think there’s a controversy here.

The testing requirements for Amherst and Williams are slightly different. Amherst requires either: (1) SAT I plus two SAT II’s or (2) ACT. Williams requires either: (1) SAT I plus two SAT II’s or (2) ACT plus two SAT II’s.

If a Williams applicant has taken the ACT and SAT I, Williams will see the SAT I scores when the SAT II scores are submitted. Because Amherst does not require SAT II’s from those submitting the ACT, it probably doesn’t see as many SAT scores of either type. In my experience (two children applying to college in the last 3 years), the Williams testing requirements are more common among the most selective schools: Take either the ACT or SAT, but the top schools still want SAT II’s too. By loosening its testing requirements, Amherst might be reaching a broader demographic, but I doubt it’s a significant difference.

Plenty of top students, including those from regions of the country which have been historically SAT only, are now taking the ACT. I know the local public schools around here now encourage everyone to take both tests – although they did not do so in 2005 when my first child was going through the application process. My younger child took the ACT first, and when the results came in, bagged taking the SAT I. He did go on to take the SAT II’s. No great strategic positioning or controversy going on here – just trying to get the standardized testing part of the college admissions process done as easily as possible.

I think the %’s reflect a different approach in reporting the stats, but I suspect the overall average for these two schools is still very similar.

#9 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

Issue #1: Testing

There is a difference in standardizied testing policy that may be signficant. At Williams and Swarthmore, if you want to submit the ACT instead of the SAT, you are required to submit the ACT Writing/Essay test as well.

At Amherst, the ACT Writing/Essay is only recommended.

Could this account for the difference between 95% SAT and 76% SAT? I don’t know.

#10 Comment By 1980 On August 24, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

HWC, I don’t think the requirement to submit the writing portion of the ACT is that big a deal(most students taking the ACT and applying to most selective schools will be taking this anyways, and it’s not an onerous requirement). The bigger difference is that Amherst does not require two SAT II’s from those submitting the ACT.

#11 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

Swarthmore does not require the SATII subject tests when submitting the ACT either. Like Amherst, they view the ACT as a replacement for both the SATI and the SATII. Yet Swarthmore’s SAT submission is 95%.

I’m stumped by the discrepency between Williams/Swarthmore and Amherst on this. Amherst’s percentage dropped signficantly to 76%. It had been running 85% to 87%.

It may be geographic. At least in comparison to Swarthmore, Amherst draws somewhat more heavily from the midwest (ACT-land) less heavily from the Mid Atlantic (SAT-land).

There isn’t much difference percentage-wise from the south and the west, but the individual state breakdowns could reveal some differences I guess.

#12 Comment By bfleming On August 24, 2008 @ 1:11 pm

It still seems like too much of a discrepancy, though, no? And as to Jeff’s point, when two schools are running so closely, every little bit helps …

#13 Comment By Kevin On August 24, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

How are 1% of Amherst matriculants getting in without submitting the SAT I or ACT?

#14 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

Kudos to dkane. He figured it out.

I went back and looked at the last four years of Common Data Sets.

Amherst consistently reports SAT plus ACT totalling 100% of their enrollees (or the 99% that results from adding rounded numbers).

Both Swarthmore and Williams are consistently reporting a total SAT plus ACT in the 110% to 120% range.

Clearly what is going on here is that Swarthmore and Williams are reporting both the SAT and ACT for students submitting both (as they are supposed to according to the instructions).

Amherst is not. Amherst is pulling a “Middlebury” and only reporting whichever score (SAT or ACT) they used for admissions purposes, presumably whichever is higher. (I know that they receive both scores for the dual test takers). It is incomprehsible that not one single enrolled Amherst freshman took both the SAT and the ACT when 20% of both Williams and Swarthmore’s freshman classes the last two years took both.

#15 Comment By Kevin On August 24, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

As has been pointed out to you several times, Middlebury reports its SAT I and ACT scores in exactly the same manner as Williams and Swat. Look at Midd’s numbers:

SAT I: 88%
ACT: 24%

At Middlebury, students can submit either the SAT I, ACT, or 3 SAT IIs. If they submit the SAT I or 3 SAT IIs, the college will report their SAT I score (regardless of whether it’s used in admissions). For all others, they report ACT scores. Why do you insist on arguing this? Methinks you doth protest too much.

#16 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

And, think again if you think SAT scores only impact the Selectivity Ranks:

USNEWS Selectivity Rank

1 Harvey Mudd
2 Swarthmore
3 Pomona
3 Williams
5 Amherst
5 Haverford

The selectivity (SAT scores, percentage in top 10%, etc.) also impact the dreaded “Predicted Graduation Rate” category. Not only does USNEWS award points for graduation rate rankings, they award points for “overperforming or underperforming” their predicted graduation rates.

[Note: To show you just how FUBAR the new online edition is, I cannot get a ranked list of colleges by selectivity! The single most important piece of data in building a list of safeties, matches, and reaches and to find the first five, I had to go to each school and drill down two levels deep in tabs. And that was starting with a pretty good idea of what the top five or six were. What a joke.)

Actual graduation rate and rankings

1 Amherst 96%
2 Williams 95%
3 Pomona 94%
4 Swarthmore 94%

But, here are the “predicted” grad rates (the penalty for having higher SATs and % top-10). This is a separate points category, an additional gold star or demerit from the same grad rate data:

Predicted grad rates and over/under performance

+0 Swarthmore 94% vs 94% predicted
+2 Williams 95% vs 93% predicted
+1 Pomona 94% vs 93% predicted
+4 Amherst 96% vs 92% predicted

I think you can see how stupid these rankings really are. First, there is no meaningful difference between a 94% and a 96% graduation rate. And, even less difference for the double-dip on the “predicted” graduation rate. I mean honestly, would anyone seriously “predict” a lower grad rate for Amherst than for Pomona, Williams, and Swarthmore?

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

#17 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

As has been pointed out to you several times, Middlebury reports its SAT I and ACT scores in exactly the same manner as Williams and Swat.

Yeah, now they do. After they got busted submitting fraud data on their common data sets a couple of years back. Data that wasn’t even consistent with their own factbook data and data that massively and fraudulently overstated the “selectivity” of the college.

They were submitting SAT data on their common data sets for only about 50% of the freshman class. Hell yeah. Base your median SAT scores on your top 50% scorers and your school looks like frickin’ CalTech. What a deal.

The dead giveaway was their 25% numbers above Swarthmore and Pomona. Absurd and they got busted for it.

#18 Comment By Kevin On August 24, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

1) They didn’t get busted for it (a new dean of admissions (wisely) decided to make the change).

2) If you admit that this misleading reporting method ended 3 years ago, why do you continue to discuss it as though it’s a current practice?

#19 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

Here. Middlebury forgot to remove the smoking gun from their website.

See page 4 of the
2004-5 Middlebury Common Data Set (PDF)

Percent submitting SAT: 50%

25th percentile SAT: 1380
75th percentila SAT: 1500

If it weren’t a fraud number, that would be the highest 25th percentile of any LAC in the country at the time. Higher than Swarthmore, Williams, Amherst, and Pomona, but with an acceptance rate of 27%.

Compare to this year’s Middlebury numbers:

Percent submitting SAT: 88%

25th percentile SAT: 1300
75th percentila SAT: 1490

Hmmmm. So you are telling me that the bottom quarter of Midd’s freshman class plummeted by 80 points on the combined SAT in just four years?

#20 Comment By jeffz On August 24, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

HWC, I think Kevin is conceding that point, but his point is that the practice has stopped (which I didn’t know myself until Kevin et. al. chimed in) and nevertheless, Middlebury has risen in the rankings. So whatever Middlebury is doing, they have had the largest recent rise among top liberal arts schools despite taking a hit to SAT scores which were, but are no longer, artificially inflated. As I’ve said before, the biggest obstacles Midd has to overcome (beyond the lag in reputational recognition) is its much smaller per-student endowment (less than half A,W,S,P) and its relative lack of diversity, particularly in terms of enrolling US black and latino students. I imagine it will also suffer in terms of socioeconomic diversity going forward because it has not gone no-loan. It is ahead of the curve in terms of its campus infrastructure (spectacular) and international and environmental focus, and has nearly caught up in terms of the stats of enterring frosh (HUGE increase in application numbers, probably driven in part by its reputation for enrolling internationals, and dramatic increase in students in top ten percent of class, and probably SAT in real terms).

#21 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

Of course, the irony is that Middlebury fraudulently boosted their USNEWS rank by playing these games, but actually screwed themselves.

I remember my daughter’s process quite well. She was applying to Swarthmore (ED) and Williams (RD), but like most students, those had to be considered reaches, especially for a white chick from Massachusetts (no shortage of those applaying).

So, she was looking for liberal arts colleges that would be solid matches from an admissions standpoint. The Davidsons, the Vassers, etc. In reality, Middlebury would have fit that admissions profile perfectly. But, because they were submitting fraud data to USNEWS, the school looked like it was more selective than it was. So, even though my wife and I had generally positive views of Middlebury from friends who went there, our attitude was “why bother?” I mean, we always thought Midd was less selective than Williams, but surely the data in USNEWS is what it is, right? If she weren’t t get accepted to Williams as a double-legacy, she had no prayer at Middlebury, based on the USNEWS data. We didn’t know the Midd stats were fiction and that she would have been a very strong applicant for Middlebury.

That’s why I wish these schools wouldn’t play games. They just end up hurting themselves when they make it more difficult to match the right students with the right school.

#22 Comment By Kevin On August 24, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

No one is challenging your assertion that Middlebury used to report only the scores for those who chose to submit them for consideration (approximately 50% of incoming students in 2004-05). What I’m saying is that Middlebury changed its reporting method three years ago to include all test scores, regardless of whether they were used in making an admissions decision. Yet you continue to infer that Middlebury is lying in its current reporting. I’m simply suggesting that you stop living in the past.

#23 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 3:02 pm


Do you trust any of the numbers from Middlebury? I don’t. They aren’t even transparent about the number of students.

Do you know what would happen to the application numbers at Williams, Amherst, or Swarthmore if they went SAT optional like Middlebury?

#24 Comment By jeffz On August 24, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

By the way, if amherst is as reported above below Williams and tied with Haverford in selectivity ratings, you really can’t accuse them of gaming the system, when they are already screwed by it. there is no doubt that W/A/S/P are the toughest LAC’s to get into. Harvey Mudd is an engineering school which has big time numbers (like caltech) but does not require a well-rounded student body. When you take athletic success, admissions percentage, yield, racial diversity, artistic talent, well-rounded student body, any number of factors US news totally or almost totally ignores into effect, I’d say the common consensus is that A/W/S and MAYBE Pomona are the top of the heap in terms of selectivity for LAC’s. Having Williams 3d and Amherst 5th in that metric is ridiculous.

#25 Comment By jeffz On August 24, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

HWC, I trust the SAT number. They were honest before, it’s not like they lied about what percentage they were reporting. You think they are outright fabricating statistics at this point? Because now that they are reporting essentially the full range, by saying you don’t trust them, that is what you are implying. So yes, I trust them.

#26 Comment By Kevin On August 24, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

And how exactly did Middlebury screw themselves? By rising to number 5 in the rankings (now within easy striking distance of the number 4 spot)? By doubling the applicant pool in 4 years (and being on track to exceed 8,000 applicants for the class of 2013)? By maintaining a yield of 45% despite all these changes? By increasing the alumni giving rate from 50% in 2004 to 60+% this year? Or did they simply screw themsevlves because your daughter didn’t apply?

#27 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

Amherst took a hit on percentage of students graduating in the top 10%

91% Swarthmore
89% Williams
87% Pomona
85% Amherst

This is another angels dancing on the head of a pin number. Look at the percentages of freshmen submitting a class rank:

Pomona (60%)
Amherst (56%)
Swarthmore (52%)
Williams (38%)

It’s usually the more hoity-toit high schools (private prep and affluent public) that have learned to wink ‘n nod the system by not officially ranking.

#28 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

Or did they simply screw themsevlves because your daughter didn’t apply?

Well, they certainly screwed themselves with that.

We made up for it by pushing a cousin hard to apply to Middlebury, where he is currently enrolled.

#29 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

I’d say the common consensus is that A/W/S and MAYBE Pomona are the top of the heap in terms of selectivity for LAC’s.

I think Pomona is probably the hardest. It is in terms of both acceptance rate and median SATs. Lots of applicants in California; only two or three real quality LACs.

After that, it just depends on the student. A student who might have a better shot at Swarthmore might have a worse shot at Williams. And, conversely, there are can’t miss applicants to Williams who would get a polite waitlist letter from Swarthmore.

dkane’s discovery about Amherst’s SAT reporting answers some questions I’ve had for several years. Following Swarthmore’s admissions fairly closely, I can see a direct relationship between diversity recruiting and SATs. When they have a banner year for diversity (for example, setting a record 12% black freshmen, the SATs drop a smidge.

I’ve been wondering how Amherst was making their big diversity push and not having it show up in their SATs. Now, I know. They are playing SAT games. I’d guess it’s a pretty safe bet that the missing SAT scores from 24% of the class wouldn’t be their top SAT scores.

#30 Comment By 1980 On August 24, 2008 @ 5:07 pm

Some of the “missing 24%” have sky high ACT scores. Does Amherst publish their ACT range?

#31 Comment By Ronit On August 24, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

hwc – The Claremont Colleges are all very hard to get into. Claremont McKenna’s acceptance rate is even lower than Pomona, and Harvey Mudd has, I’m fairly certain, the highest SATs among all LACs.

For overall selectivity, I would guess that Cooper Union or USNA win.

#32 Comment By hwc On August 24, 2008 @ 11:54 pm

USNA has a very low 12% acceptance rate, but the median SAT scores and the percentage top 10 are not very impressive. Just over half of the Naval Academy’s freshmen graduated in the top 10% of their high school class. That’s about the same as Franklin & Marshall or Dennison or Wofford — all good solid schools, but hardly academic powerhouses.

#33 Comment By hwc On August 25, 2008 @ 12:03 am

Some of the “missing 24%” have sky high ACT scores.

Yes. Of course. The only ACT scores they report are from students whose ACT scores were their strong suit. The students who didn’t do as well on the ACT are not included in the sample.

Just like their SAT report doesn’t incude those who bombed (relatively speaking) the SAT, but did better on the ACT.

Cherry-picking their reporting like this is a small factor. I’m not saying that Amherst’s median scores would drop much, but they would drop a bit relative to comparable schools who are reporting all their SAT and ACT scores.

#34 Comment By hwc On August 25, 2008 @ 12:10 am

The Claremont Colleges are all very hard to get into. Claremont McKenna’s acceptance rate is even lower than Pomona, and Harvey Mudd has, I’m fairly certain, the highest SATs among all LACs.

Well, three of them certainly are. Pitzer and Scripps not so much.

Yes, Harvey Mudd has the highest SATs of any undergrad-only school, by quite a bit. It also is 87% white and Asian American.

Wanna bet that the median SATs for white and Asian American freshmen at Swarthmore would be pretty high, too? So would Williams and Amherst, although the white medians would be partially offset by the hockey and football tips (ducking for cover).

#35 Comment By ce On August 25, 2008 @ 1:16 am

It’d be interesting if all schools reported data broken down along demographic lines. My guess is that because of Williams’ large minority/athlete/legacy/international/economically disadvantaged population, for an American, White/Asian non-tip non-legacy (ie: the majority of the applicant pool), Williams might be the hardest school to get into in the country. Factor ED out of that equation (RD, American, white/asian, non-tip, non-legacy) and the selectivity stats become even more impressive.

#36 Comment By Vermando On August 25, 2008 @ 2:19 am

Cool threat gents. Glad that our statistical wizards have called out the Lord Jeffs. Well done all around.

#37 Comment By hwc On August 25, 2008 @ 2:39 am

It’d be interesting if all schools reported data broken down along demographic lines.

They’ll never do it, but it sure would help make assembling safety-match-reach lists easier.

In helping my daughter, I always assumed that she needed 75th percentile SATs (and class rank, etc.) for a school to be a solid match.

#38 Comment By David On August 25, 2008 @ 3:19 am

Before I pursue this further (and you can be sure I will), would anyone else beside HWC like to chime in and whether or not Amherst is being honest here. (And, for HWC, how sure are you that something suspect is going on here?) As best I can tell, there are two possibilities:

1) Amherst is lying. They are SAT scores for at least some of those 113 students but are choosing not to report them in the Common Dataset.

2) Amherst is telling the truth. They do not have SAT scores for those 113 students. The only remotely plausible reason that I have seen is that, because they allow students to submit only the ACT, there might be students who only do that, who either do not take SAT subject tests at all and/or do not submit them to Amherst.

To nail this down, I guess we need a highly competitive LAC with the same testing requirements as Amherst. If another school also allows students to just submit the ACT but still has a much higher percentage for reported SAT scores, then it would seem clear that Amherst is fudging things.

Comments welcome!

#39 Comment By frank uible On August 25, 2008 @ 7:17 am

I’m relieved that I have found convincing evidence herein that we are not benightedly (and are not benightedly making our children and grandchildren) neurotic over any cosmicly unimportant subject such as SAT scores.

#40 Comment By fatcat On August 25, 2008 @ 8:34 am

Middlebury’s former submission policy was consistent with other schools’ practices. It required SAT Is or ACTs, and therefore submitted what students chose: for SATs it was around 50% of the entering class. No wonder the scores were as high or higher than A/S/W. Bowdoin, I believe, still submits a fraction of its SAT scores — even less then 50% — as SATs are fully optional.

The reality is, colleges get all the scores for students who take them, regardless of whether they “choose” to submit them, so Amherst, to answer David’s question, could report more if it so chose to (some international students can’t take the SAT Is and so the total may not add up to 100%). But — do you think Tom Parker would advocate for that? The missing scores, you can be sure, are not in the 1550-1600 range.

HWC: it was the new president, not dean, that changed Middlebury’s policy of submitting all the scores it received for a reason related to your daughter’s situation. He argued that many great “1350 to 1420” students might not apply to Middlebury, thinking it was too much of a stretch when seeing the scores for 1/2 the incoming class.

And test scores were never “optional” at Middlebury. One had to choose SAT Is or ACTs, or SAT IIs — that is different from a Bowdoin or other schools that have gone fully test optional, and so there was less fudging at Middlebury than you seem to suggest.

#41 Comment By 1980 On August 25, 2008 @ 9:18 am

Wesleyan has the same testing requirements as Amherst.

One other factor: according to their website (that I have now spent too much time on), Amherst superscores the ACT. That’s pretty unusual – very few schools superscore the ACT.

I still don’t think Amherst is doing something evil here.

#42 Comment By David On August 25, 2008 @ 11:15 am

1) I should have credited reader “Kevin” in the previous thread for pointing me toward the Amherst SAT anomoly.

2) I am in a poor-browsing location. Can anyone confirm reader 1980’s claim and/or provide some links? If Wesleyan has the same score requirements as Amherst but still reports close to 100% of its students’ SAT scores, we would be fairly close to “proving” that Amherst is misreporting its scores.

3) A further complication involves the Common Ap. My underestanding is that the vast majority of applicants to Williams/Amerst/Wesleyan use the Common Ap. True? If so, is that where one gives “permission” to schools to look at your scores? If so, that would suggest that any student who gives Williams permission must also be giving any other school to which she applies permission. Is that correct?

#43 Comment By David On August 25, 2008 @ 11:22 am

Hmm. Wesleyan Common Data Set is here. 90% submit SAT scores. Is there any (innocent) reason why Wesleyan, with the same (still need link to confirm) admissions requirements as Amherst, would have SAT scores for 90% of its students while Amherst only has them for 76%? Not that I can think of.

#44 Comment By David On August 25, 2008 @ 11:26 am

And that same document confirms that Wesleyan has the same testing requirement as Amherst.

I think that Record editor-in-chief Kevin Waite ’09 has a fun story here . . .

#45 Comment By hwc On August 25, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

Amherst is playing games with the definition of submitting test scores. They are saying that they only report the one score the student has “submitted” for consideration. However, that’s not the reality of the process. Amherst gets test scores by computer from the College Board. They see all sittings of the SAT and SATII tests.

That’s the game that Middlebury was playing back when they were only submitting SAT scores from 50% of the class, when in reality they had the scores for 88% of the class.

There is no way that SAT plus ACT adds up to 100% year after year after year. Students take both.

#46 Comment By Rory On August 25, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

honestly, i’m not sure why we’re calling that “game playing”.

what is more unfair about one or the other form of reporting except that US news isn’t smart enough to ask for one specific type of report from the school?

for all we know, amherst does that because when it processes the applications, it only lists the one score students submit and it would be an extra time expenditure to go back and look up people who use more than one test just to fill in the US news and world report bs crap rankings.

reading through this–jeffz and 1980 in early comments made the same point: there’s an assumption of malicious intent on amherst’s part that is an unseemly and unsubstantiated piece of the argument being made.

this is ridiculous.

#47 Comment By Soph Mom On August 25, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

“this is ridiculous.”

…and embarrassing.

It is so unseemly…(not to mention ungracious), for those in the No. 1 position to be arguing (publicly!) that anyone else who might have also earned that position, shouldn’t be there.

So much pettiness! And for what?

Although, considering the insinuations made towards those that are ranking, if there would be any reason to lower Williams ‘score’ in the future, this discussion would qualify.

#48 Comment By Dick Swart On August 25, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

Ridiculous, embarrassing…
and may I repeat my comments 1 and 2 at the start of this thread:

WTF and GAL!

#49 Comment By jeffz On August 25, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

By the way, the reason for the tie was not a change in SAT scores, but rather for some inexplicable reason, Williams’ peer reputation score dropped to 4.6, the first time it is has not ranked first in that category. That category, by the way, is the best example of just how stupid US News is: what that means is that for Williams, Amherst, Pomona and Swarthmore, every year, there are a number of peers who claim that those schools are not in the TOP 20 PERCENT of liberal arts colleges (scoring them a 4 rather than a 5). Obviously, these are people who know nothing about liberal arts college, or have some jealousy issues or whatnot.

Selectivity is also dumb. I mean, Harvey Mudd and Caltech will always be number one because their admissions are driven almost entirely by numbers — sure they have ridiculously high SAT scores and class ranks, but Williams, Amherst etc. (or the ivies among universities) could easily enroll a similar class. Instead, they put higher priority on other attributes like socioeconomic and racial diversity, athletic and artistic talent, leadership ability, and so on.

#50 Comment By David Broadband On August 26, 2008 @ 1:32 am

Rankings rattle our institutional supporters over the frustration of place and position.

Raising your profile brings scathing criticism on the convergence of issues discussing real change in enrollment management strategies. The corporatization of college admissions is more about defending practices and incorporating distribution issues.

Of course, being a well endowed institution, the hypocrisy of institutional self-interest never competes on principles that move in educationally desirable directions.

Competition matters since we move out of self-interest.

#51 Comment By frank uible On August 26, 2008 @ 7:26 am

God dammit – one last time – Williams would be a better place if it established its acceptances by drawing them out of a hat.

#52 Comment By nuts On August 26, 2008 @ 10:17 am

There are indications the author may suffer from mental illness. Every fact is interpreted as a nefarious gambit with no evidence other than presumed motive.

Of course, there is an easier way to resolve the question. Call the admission director and ask him. Somehow, that never occurs to Raising Kane.

There is reason to believe the Admission Director would take the call and reason to believe he would answer the questions honestly… unless of course, he has become far less forthright and honest since he did the same job at Williams and since he earned his undergraduate degree with honesty and integrity.

We examined the process of becoming suspicious and discovering ulterior motives. Participants read about a likable behavior, then sequentially received ten cues about potential ulterior motives of the actor. Participants were asked to think aloud while they were reading. Their thoughts were coded. We expected that the general impression of the actor would gradually become more negative, whereas suspicion would first increase and later decrease, concomitant with increased certainty that ulterior motives were indeed involved. Confirming our hypotheses, we found a linear effect for general impression and a quadratic effect for suspicion. Discussion focuses on the development of suspicion as a process and on the relevance of our findings to other settings in which multiple hypotheses are entertained.


#53 Comment By Soph Mom On August 26, 2008 @ 11:15 am

Who is nuts?

Not ‘nuts’…

#54 Comment By nuts On August 26, 2008 @ 5:42 pm

Amherst’s Director of Admissions is an Eph who directed Admissions at Williams before he took the job at Amherst. If you had questions about the stats, you could call him and ask him. He’d answer them. Instead of doing the obvious, Kane attributes dubious authenticity to the numbers; “Does Amherst Misreport Its SAT Data?” This is the Kane pattern of framing posts.

Who is Soph Mom? Not ‘Soph Mom’ Consider it an existential question?

#55 Comment By Soph Mom On August 26, 2008 @ 8:37 pm


If you are not you, and I am not me…
… then perhaps I am you, and you are me!

(and we are all together…coo coo, kachoo…)

…’existentially speaking’, that is…

#56 Comment By Dick Swart On August 26, 2008 @ 8:51 pm

Or as the Belle of (how appropriate) Amherst wrote:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

#57 Comment By Soph Mom On August 26, 2008 @ 11:08 pm


LOL…your little ditty reminds me of the letters to Rechtal re the ‘pond’.

But shouldn’t that last line be: “To an admiring blog! (?)
(…or ‘unadmiring’ depending on which ‘livelong day’ it might be…)

#58 Comment By Dick Swart On August 26, 2008 @ 11:35 pm

Sophmom –

Yes! I saw the b(l)og opportunity. While I have had no ethical qualms in appropriating other’s work, I just couldn’t tinker with Emily Dickenson.

And I won’t touch “No Way, No How, No McCain” no matter how tempting!

#59 Comment By nuts On August 27, 2008 @ 11:21 am

Now the thread has taken a turn for the better, thanks to Soph Mom’s probing and DS’ musing.

Q: [I]f you were king, you wouldn’t be afraid of anything?
A: Not nobody. Not nohow.

#60 Comment By Dick Swart On August 27, 2008 @ 11:59 am


From Emily Dickenson to Yip Harburg!

Yes, sometimes in ephblog there is the miraculous appearance of the kind of conversation that one would like to associate with graduates of Williams. It is always such a relief after the carping, hair-splitting, paranoid, tape-splinted-glasses type of bloviation that seems to be the norm.

Suppose you met a brontosaurus?

I’d show him who was king of the fores’

Somehow, Bert Lahr and John McCain blend in my mind.

#61 Comment By Soph Mom On August 27, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

“…sometimes in ephblog…”

“…someplace where there isn’t any trouble…..not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away, behind the moon, beyond the rain.”

*Riddle of the Day: If Ephblog is the Land of Oz, then who might the Wizard be?

(Tricky one… but give it your best!)

#62 Comment By frank uible On August 27, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

Swart: EphBlog is more like Glocca Mora than Oz – here today, gone tomorrow. But nonetheless with lyrics by Harburg and directed by Kane.

#63 Comment By (d)HTK On August 27, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

Brigadoon was the here today and then gone for a century Irish village.

#64 Comment By nuts On August 27, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

…then who might the Wizard be? (Assuming the wizard is a wizard who will serve…)

(Cowardly Lion)
Yeah, it’s sad, believe me Missy
When you’re born to be a sissy
Without the vim and verve
But I could show my prowess
Be a lion, not a mowess
If I only had the nerve

I’m afraid there’s no denyin’
I’m just a dandylion
A fate I don’t deserve
I’d be brave as a blizzard

(Tin Man)
I’d be gentle as a lizard

I’d be clever as a gizzard

If the Wizard is a wizard who will serve

#65 Comment By frank uible On August 27, 2008 @ 5:33 pm

I stand corrected. Glocca Mora was from Finian’s Rainbow with lyrics by Harburg while Brigadoon was the town about which I was thinking – lyrics by Lewrner.

#66 Comment By Dick Swart On August 27, 2008 @ 7:24 pm

nuts –


top image for a comment re “who can serve” and a bad wizard!

#67 Comment By Dick Swart On August 27, 2008 @ 7:25 pm

nuts –

a wizard who served poorly behind the curtain:


#68 Comment By Soph Mom On August 27, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

More like the evil, wicked witch…willing to throw everyone to the wolves for (the) personal acquisition (of the ruby slippers).

Would that he had (melted and) been gone (4 years ago) before so much damage had been done.

#69 Comment By nuts On August 28, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

Wizard: Not so fast! Not so fast! I’ll have to give the matter a little thought! Go away and come back tomorrow!

Dorothy: Tomorrow! Oh, but I want to go home now!

Wizard: Do not arouse the wrath of the Great and Powerful Oz! I said come back tomorrow! Oh! The Great Oz has spoken! Oh! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The Great, Powerful — has spoken

Dorothy: Who are you?

Wizard: Well, I – I – I am the Great and Powerful – Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy: You are?

Wizard: Uh –

Dorothy: I don’t believe you!

Wizard: No, I’m afraid it’s true. There’s no other Wizard except me.

Dorothy: Oh – you’re a very bad man!

Wizard: Oh, no, my dear. I – I’m a very good man. I’m just a very bad Wizard.

#70 Comment By nuts On August 28, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

Cheney was never so forthright. He knew his initiatives required deception and the cover of secrecy. That is how he chose to operate, without scrutiny and without accountability.

The curtain was pulled back during the hullabaloo over Ambassador Wilson’s Op-Ed. Cheney, Libby, Rove, Armitage, Judy Miller and Robert Novak’s involvement in exposing the identity of covert CIA agent Valarie Plame, and the evolution of the story into a broader view that the Bush Administration manufactured consent for the disastrous war of aggression in Iraq with fraudulent, misleading arguments and partial truths, by exaggerating threats and withholding critical information from Congress and the American people.

The Bush Administration did so successfully by taking advantage of a national climate of shock from the 9/11 airplane attacks and the anthrax attacks, which brought the threat home to every American. The American people were ready to believe their leaders and they abused our trust by setting out to deceive us, on matters of life and death.

It was reported at the time, that the anthrax attacks had signature elements of the Iraq bio-weapons program. Hmmm… The anthrax attacks occurred in September 2001 and the specter of Iraq was already being raised as the enemy, along with Al Qaeda.

There are more facts to be learned about how the Bush Administration operated over the last 7+ years. I’m quite sure the story will not be particularly proud moments in American history. Better that we face the truth and confront it than live in ignorance of what was and what can be when government is hijacked by a radical executive who most certainly has not lived up to his oath to defend the constitution. Isn’t there a remedy for that condition?

#71 Comment By Soph Mom On August 28, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

“…I’m a very good man, I’m just a very bad Wizard.”

Let’s see…a minor tweak to read “very bad man, very good Wizard”…and we have a more apt description of Cheney.

As far as a “remedy”, or retribution? Time will tell. But at least Kucinich, and others, are exposing the “condition”.