Improving College Performance and Retention the Easy Way: Unpacking the Act Exam

37 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2011 Last revised: 23 Jun 2011

See all articles by Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger

Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brent Evans

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Devin G. Pope

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

Colleges rely on the ACT exam in their admission decisions to increase their ability to differentiate between students likely to succeed and those that have a high risk of under-performing and dropping out. We show that two of the four sub tests of the ACT, English and Mathematics, are highly predictive of positive college outcomes while the other two subtests, Science and Reading, provide little or no additional predictive power. This result is robust across various samples, specifications, and outcome measures. We demonstrate that focusing solely on the English and Mathematics test scores greatly enhances the predictive validity of the ACT exam.

Suggested Citation

Bettinger, Eric and Evans, Brent and Pope, Devin G., Improving College Performance and Retention the Easy Way: Unpacking the Act Exam (June 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17119. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1866081

Eric Bettinger (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Brent Evans

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Devin G. Pope

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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