College-Readiness Predictor: GPA vs. Standardized Tests

Published On: June 22nd, 2016·By ·

Which do you think is the best college-readiness predictor? GPA or standardized tests?

Which one would you use as a college-readiness predictor? A student's GPA or standardized test scores? New studies I found on Twitter show one is more reliable than than the other. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

A recent study from the University of Alaska suggests that GPAs are more reliable indicators of college success than standardized test scores. According to an article written by Jill Barshay and posted on the Hechinger Report and posted by MindShift on their Twitter account, a student with solid a GPA  is a better gauge for college readiness than any standardized test score. However, colleges tend to use standardized test scores rather than GPAs to determine if students need to take a remedial math or English class before taking a college-level course in either subject. They believe it's the best college-readiness predictor and should be used to determine if a student is prepared for a college-level course.

But recent studies show this isn't the case. According to the research, there was no significant correlation between high test scores and passing college-level classes. Using grades to determine placement proved much more useful. A student with a 3.0 average is about 25 percent more likely to pass a standard college class than a student with a 2.0 overall score. It also stated that 60 percent of students who manage to play the system and get out of the remedial classes end up passing the college-level class. They did not have enough data on students with high GPAs and low test scores to produce any reliable results.

college-readiness predictor

More colleges are starting to put more weight into GPA scores, but not all. The rationale behind this is that no two classes, high schools, or teachers are made alike. Classes that cover the exact same topics could vary greatly in difficulty depending on the school and teacher. On the other hand, every student takes the exact same standardized test. However, the study argues that even if the class was an “easy” class or had “easy” graders, that it still proves the student attended class on a regular basis and turned in their work consistently, which are necessary skills to succeed in college.

Opinions vary on the subject. Some argue that the students they've seen in the remedial courses are there because they need it. Others accuse colleges of placing student into remedial courses as an attempt to make more money. Remedial classes do not count for college credit but a student still must pay for them even if they contribute no credits to their degree.

What do you think? Should colleges use GPAs or standardized testing more? Why do you think that? Have you seen students you believe are college ready perform poorly on tests? Or students who you do not think are college ready receive great scores?

Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to

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