being asked to include SAT, ACT, or GRE scores with a job application

A reader writes:

What are your thoughts about employers requesting GPA, SAT, ACT and/or GRE scores on an application?

I’m searching for part-time work to supplement my grad school schedule and came across a part-time office manager position at a psychologist’s office with flexible hours. It’d be a great fit – I’m in grad school to become a therapist and have several years of office management behind me. I could greatly benefit from seeing a private practice from the inside out.

But I was a little put off by the request to include GPA, GRE, SAT and/or ACT scores. I’m not embarrassed by my scores and included them in my application, but I’m curious about your thoughts. I can perhaps understand GPA — a measure of how I performed in school. However, the other assessments are mostly aimed at predicting academic success – not necessarily job performance (especially as an office manager). Am I missing some way they are relevant? What would you do as an applicant?

In some fields, GPA isn’t a terribly unusual thing to ask for with entry-level applicants. I’d dispute its utility once you have an actual work record to look at, but it’s not outlandish. But GRE, SAT, and ACT scores? That’s an absurd request and highly unusual for most jobs, let alone for an office manager position.

My hunch is that the psychologist is so steeped in academic environments — and so lacking in experience outside of them — that this seems like a reasonable request, and something that’s normal and par for the course … and doesn’t realize that it’s not, and that those scores aren’t typically used outside of academia.

If you get the job, you should point it out.

{ 138 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann O'Nemity

    With the GRE and SAT, did they simply request the scores? Or did they ask for an official copy?

    I’d be extra ticked if the answer was the latter, as those official copies actually cost money.

    1. OP

      The job posting just said to include scores (no mention of official scores). Had they requested official scores that yes, do cost money, I probably wouldn’t have complied. The $11/hr wage isn’t enough to justify.

      1. TheSnarkyB

        Yeah, I’m with AAM here, I think she’s stuck in academia. Either that, or she’s treating her practice like it’s stepping-stone experience for people going into Doc programs, and she wants to know who is and who is not “up to snuff” in her mind. That would be pretty messed up though.

    2. Ruffingit

      I don’t even remember my SAT score. What a ridiculous thing to ask for. And yeah, if they’re wanting official score transcripts, I’d be really pissed and probably wouldn’t bother applying. It’s just ridiculous.

      1. Jessa

        Not only don’t I remember mine but I took it back somewhere in the 70s. They don’t score them the same way now.

        1. Ruffingit

          They’ve changed the scoring system since I took mine as well. I just can’t even imagine asking for SAT scores. So weird.

      1. Kelly O

        Great. I’ll never get another job again.

        Plus, I got that D in handwriting once in third grade… anyone got a cardboard box I can borrow?

        1. louise

          I got a U (unsatisfactory) in 3rd grade handwriting! What’s with those 3rd grade teachers expecting the dexterity of a calligrapher, huh? (actually, perfectly executed calligraphy would have gotten a U as well. Miss W. had some tough standards and it had to match the book exactly.)

          1. Audiophile

            I did see SAT/ACT/GPA requested as an entry level candidate. but I could understand it then. You’re only a few years removed from high school, I didn’t even work at all during high school, so I was a college freshman when I first started working. That was difficult to get by, because i was up against candidates with a few years experience. Most of the time, I didn’t even get to the interview stage.

            1. Judy

              I would say that my first internship was very hard to get, I didn’t realize that lawn care, odd jobs and babysitting didn’t count as jobs. So even though I had been essentially providing “daycare” 3 days a week for the same family for 3 summers, most employers didn’t consider that “having a job”.

    1. Mep

      Same here! I remember seeing a company that prides itself in having a SAT math score of 750!

      Please note: I have a MS degree in Applied Mathematics with a SAT math score < 750 (and yes…I do remember my old scores). I don't like applying to companies that shows off…

    2. Mep

      Same here! There was a company that prides itself in having a SAT math score of 750!

      Please note: I have a MS degree in Applied Mathematics with a SAT math score < 750. And no…I didn't apply to that company, but I did get a good laugh from reading the requirements :)

  2. Cath@VWXYNot?

    How do employers that ask for these scores handle applicants who were educated in other countries?

    I lived in the UK until I was 24 (now in Canada) and I don’t have a GPA, SAT, ACT, or a GRE score – our system works very differently. I have letter grades for my A levels (exams taken at the end of high school), a BSc, first class (they’re graded as first, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd, and fail), and a PhD (pass and fail are the only categories) – I would have absolutely no idea how to translate those into any of the scores listed in this question!

    Luckily I’ve never had a Canadian employer ask for any scores or stats that I don’t have…

      1. Cath@VWXYNot?

        Heh, see, I’m in my little academia bubble and don’t know about other Canadian jobs! (I did work in the private sector for two years, but it was for a biotech company run by academics – and my husband is in the movie industry, which is equally, if not more, weird).

        So – ignoring what I said about Canada – what would someone like me do when applying for a job in the US where these US-specific stats are a required part of the application?

    1. Laura

      Canadians don’t do SATs or ACTs either! And then a GPA on a 4.0 scale like seems common in the US is really uncommon here (Ontario). So Canadian employers probably don’t ask because we don’t do those highschool tests. We have GREs, but wouldn’t they be at least ok if you got into grad school?

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        I have a Master’s degree from a Canadian school, but never took the GRE. None of the four (good) schools I applied for asked for it. I would be flabbergasted if someone asked for GRE scores in lieu of my actual graduate degree? That is so, so, so strange to me.

        1. Laura

          I know GREs are uncommon in Canada, but I know they actual exist at some universities, rather than the SATs which don’t exist at all. It would still be weird!

        2. Ruffingit

          I have a master’s and never took the GRE either. I was able to waive that requirement for my M.A. program because I already had a law degree so I had already proven I could survive in the grad school environment.

    2. Anonymous

      Could the argument be made that they’re discriminating based on national origin if they require/filter on the basis of having one of these scores?

      Or is it a legit legal way they could discriminate against these groups without up front actually saying it?

      Genuinely curious

  3. De Minimis

    Seems out of line for this particular letter writer since they have years of office manager experience. But I do think GPA can be used as an indicator of how someone might do on the job if there isn’t anything else to go on.

    1. NylaW

      I can see if it a candidate is still in college and hasn’t graduated yet, but once you have real work experience I don’t see much of a point.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s a stand-in when you don’t have actual work experience to look at. Once you have years of that, it’s not too relevant. What employers care about is what you’ll achieve on the job. GPA is a proxy when there’s no other real evidence to look at.

      1. De Minimis

        My previous employer would mainly use it as an easy way to weed out applicants. I don’t believe they really looked at it much when comparing candidates that were all above the cut-off point.

        Wanting the test scores really seems off the wall to me, because those aren’t really good indicators of anything other than how well a person took a particular test on a particular day. I think it’s been more or less debunked that they are even that good a predictor of college success.

      2. OP

        Yes and in all fairness, this job posting specifically mentioned this job would be perfect for a student. I guess they assumed they’d be getting tons of applicants with no job experience?

        1. KarenT

          I think people attribute personality traits to high test scores. It’s a false equivalency, in many cases, but people with high test scores can be seen as smart, hard working, studious, responsible, etc.

          1. aebhel

            I find that hilarious, because IME it’s the exact opposite. I scored very well on the SAT, but as a student (at least in high-school), I was a lazy, disorganized mess. I just tested well enough that I could get away with it.

      3. BGirl81

        When I was looking, I saw GPA as a requirement for a lot of admin positions in my experience range (generally listed as 7-10 years in the job descriptions). I graduated nearly a decade ago (*SOB*) and I couldn’t tell you mine if my life depended on it. One recruiter I talked to said I would have to get my transcripts before one of her clients would even look at my resume and could I go ahead and have them overnight-ed?! I get why they would want it for recent grads, but with almost a decade’s worth of resume for them to read and plenty of references, my unemployed self wasn’t ponying up the $65.

  4. NylaW

    Those tests were more than half my life ago. Despite the fact that I scored well on them, I wouldn’t want to work for a company that put any stock in my scores.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I wouldn’t. F that. And I say that as someone who rocked the SATs and wishes they were still something relevant I could bring up all the time.

          1. louise

            Me too! It’s my only claim to fame, really. Scored a perfect 36 on the reading comprehension portion. Frankly, it’s made no difference in my success (or lack thereof) in the last 14 years, but if I saw an employer wanted it, I would hope they’re impressed with me since I’m in the top percentile.

        1. annie

          Alison, l feel like this is the perfect example when you talk about how silly hiring things will turn off the best candidates! I have 99% percentile GPA, SAT and ACT scores, so by this employer’s logic I guess I would be an ideal candidate, but if I was asked this I would think they were nuts and take myself out of consideration.

        2. Anon

          Perfect PSAT and SAT scores here, and I would laugh my head off if an employer asked me for them–or any other scores or GPAs–now.

      2. Fiona

        And to answer this question, I wouldn’t. That requirement would immediately make me suspicious of what other kinds of crazy hoops they might have their applicants jump through, and (fortunately) I’ve got better things to do with my time and talents.

        1. Ruffingit

          Same here. It’s just such a stupid requirement that I would wonder what else is wrong with that company.

      3. Tinker

        Personally, I’ve applied to a handful of places that have asked one of those questions, but they were obviously large companies with a one-size-fits-entire universe massive application form. If I got the impression they were asking for serious, it’d at least raise some concerns that I’d want to resolve before going forward.

        For one, it seems kind of clueless and rigid, which are two tastes that don’t go well with me; I’ve also spent far too much time on the Internet and consequently have a bit of a twitch regarding wonky uses of psychometrics, as it can be a tell for… shall we say a certain point of view that involves dividing people into groups and ranking them relative to one another. To such folks, I wish good health somewhere far away from me.

  5. Lora

    The really big consulting firms ask for them too–mostly because they typically recruit kids fresh out of the Ivy League who have NO other job experience. But they still ask experienced people to fill out the forms. I just made numbers up, because honestly, I have no clue what they were and the testing services don’t keep records of scores that were written in cuneiform on clay tablets, sort of thing.

    Considering that Harvard gives just about everyone A’s, and the level of cheating and test-prep shenanigans that go into those things, it seems more than a little foolish even for their typical new hire demographic.

    When you think about the function of those consulting firms, it’s kinda depressing.

    1. Anonymous

      I was under the impression that the big consulting firms recruit kids fresh out of the Ivy League who have internship experience or work experience in college. Certainly when I was a Harvard (and later at another Ivy as a grad student but knowing undergrads) many students certainly worked for pay or some worked as interns for no pay in the summer. Grades and connections are not usually enough to a management consulting job, unless the connections are extremely powerful.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I think that’s why it’s even more of a head scratcher that those places request standardized test scores. No one I knew got a job at McKinsey or wherever without some prior work experience. Plus, the more selective of a university, I’m guessing the majority of recruits will have at least a very good SAT score.

        I guess it’s good marketing? “Susie Q junior analyst scored a 1600 on her SAT!” If I were a potential client, I would find this completely irrelevant, but maybe someone finds it relevant.

      2. Lora

        I wasn’t really thinking of internship experience as work experience–especially considering how few of those are paid these days.

        1. Anonymous

          But if your point was the consulting firms use test scores because they don’t have much else to go on, you should consider internships. Certainly the ones that help get you into a McKinsey or BCG are work and are experience.

          Also: “I just made numbers up” – really?

          1. Lora

            My point was more that as a client, I would vastly prefer that my hired consultants have many more years/more broad experience/something more than me in terms of actual work experience in the specific field for which they are being hired–not a standardized test score and good connections. As a technical consultant who works on projects that, if I screw up, will actually *kill* people, my clients are pretty darned picky about making sure I have lots and lots of the appropriate experience and have handled similar projects successfully. It’s a bit disappointing that in other fields, someone with only a few months’ worth of academic textbook knowledge is thought to be fully competent to make multi-billion-dollar decisions. I think it speaks to how lightly they take their work responsibilities.

            Yep, I gave them approximate estimates of what my ancient papyrus-inscribed scores would translate to. Skipping it wasn’t optional and their forms only accepted numbers. If writing in “N/A” or “this exam section did not exist in 1986” is not an option, what would you have done?

            1. Stephanie

              The field always baffled me as well. Those firms recruited at my alma mater and I was confused as to what the hell I’d consult on at 22.

              Of course, the fresh out of undergrad or business school hires are probably doing a lot of the background research and grunt for the multi-billion dollar decision. Or at least I’d hope that’s the case.

              1. Lauren

                I think you may be applying assumptions or anecdotal experience to all management consultants. I’ve been a management consultant for both a large “Top 3” firm, as well as a much smaller company, and I started as an entry-level 22 year old. In my experience, it wasn’t the entry-level 22-year old (usually called an “Analyst” or an “Associate” or some other title) who was giving the client strategic direction or recommendations. They were the ones entering and combing through data, or taking direction from the actual consultants or managers (“build a slide that says x”, “create a work plan that includes y”) and then often staying late to redo the slide or the work plan because the Partner or the VP had a different perspective. Often they were not in attendence at client-facing meetings, or, if they were physically in attendence at client meetings, they often said very little (based on the direction from their team leads) – they were there to take notes, observe, learn, etc. I found the situation you describe (where a fresh-out-of-college 22-year old analyst was actually doling out management consulting advice to senior- or even junior-level clients) to be almost never (exceptions might be someone who is a whiz at coding who could say “sure, I can make that excel spreadsheet jump up and dance for you…”).

                1. Stephanie

                  Oh, that was my thinking as a junior in college! Apologies for not being clear.

                  I totally understand now that the entry-level analysts do more of the support and research for the experienced consultants.

                2. Lauren

                  Actually, I realize my reply came under your (Stephanie’s) comment, but I actually meant to comment under Lora. I see that you already noted they are doing mostly grunt work/research, etc. which was exactly my experience. Just wanted to correct the perception that entry level recent grads were often put into situations to make life-changing/life-threatening or even business-altering (i.e., multi-billion dollar) decisions… It may happen, nothing is impossible, but I think it’s rare…

  6. Mark

    I can top that. A couple of years ago I applied for a job with local company that required me to provide my college transcripts. Mind you – I graduated back in 1981. I was quite put off, but grumbling to myself, I requested the transcripts from my uni and dutifully provided them to the company. Later, I got upset with myself for kowtowing to them by complying with this ridiculous request. After that, I wanted nothing to do with the company (and I never will again)

    1. OfficePrincess

      That’s not nearly as bad as the entry-level call center job that needed a copy of my college AND HIGH SCHOOL diplomas.

      1. the gold digger

        But what if you hadn’t actually graduated from high school? I have that nightmare all the time – that I have to return to college, even though I have a master’s degree, or have to return to high school, even though I have a BA. My protests that I have the degree higher up fall on deaf ears and I can’t find my locker and I forgot I’d enrolled in organic chemistry and tomorrow is the final and it’s too late to drop, etc, etc.

        1. Alicia

          Are we the same person? When I was coming up to my PhD defense I ended up having dream after dream of going back to high school because I missed a credit in chemistry, of all things.

          1. Ruffingit

            OMG, my people! I have those dreams fairly often too and I am always so confused because I have advanced degrees as well. I wonder what the heck I’m doing there and I try to convince people that I don’t need to be there.

          2. Melissa

            I’ve had that worry too – my defense is in June but I’ve sometimes worried that I missed a class or two in college and I am going to find out that I have to make it up and go back to college.

    2. AAA

      I had quite a bit of fun applying to a job recently that required college transcripts. I requested them from my college and really enjoyed re-reading them and remembering all the random classes I took! That said, it is a little silly, unless it is a proxy for somehow seeing that you aren’t lying about having your degree.

    3. JustMe

      I don’t get why you are so upset with the company. Perhaps they had a situation in which an employee lied by saying they had a degree and they later found out that wasn’t the case. So, because of this they are now being proactive by asking all applicants upfront to provide transcripts. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

        1. Colette

          And it would be reasonable to ask for proof of graduation when you’ve reached a later stage of the process. Asking for a document that (sometimes) costs money from every applicant is a good way to lose the people you most want to hire.

      1. R the Manager

        Actually, you can confirm the degree by contacting the college yourself. Most, if not all, colleges have a phone number strictly for degree verification.

        Besides, I have heard of transcripts being faked as well.

        1. Audrey

          At my alma mater (a major Australian university) there is a web page that will verify qualifications obtained there. You input surname and date of birth, and it will tell you what degrees were obtained and the date they were conferred (not the date the requirements for the degree were met).

    4. Anon

      That doesn’t seem too far-out of a request for most companies, though, especially if the position is one that requires a certain educational background. For a counter clerk or fast food sort of job it would be overkill, but otherwise it seems a reasonable request.

    5. athek

      I had forgotten all about this, but my current institution wanted a copy of my transcript. I couldn’t tell you my GRE score if my life depended on it.

    6. EAA

      I’d have trouble with confirming college degree. Took graduate courses at same university got undergrad at and the id number got messed up and last I checked they have no record of me at all. Do have the diploma and my own official copy of transcript though.

  7. Anon

    One of my favorite jobs – where I stayed for 9+ years, until life dictated otherwise – asked for GPA on their application form. For every school, ever, including grade school. It seemed to be a cookie-cutter form they had pulled from somewhere to use. I recall filling in those goofy blanks with “n/a” and it was no big deal. The company were small enough that the one-person HR team simply didn’t have the time nor inclination to tweak the form but rather I think she used its foibles to gauge the common sense of applicants. The ones who freaked out over those silly boxes rarely got called for an interview.

    Not a system I would advocate, but it worked for them.

    1. Artemesia

      There is such a thing as a grade school GPA? I who know all my SAT/ GRE/ LSAT scores although some were taken more than 50 years ago and who remembers my high school and college GPAs have no idea whatsoever what my grade school GPA was or that I ever had such a thing.

      Your solution seems idea ‘NA’ to be sure as in not applicable.

      1. Anon

        Not at my school, that’s for sure! I think it was a just a lazily-made generic application form. I recall the education section was a little table with a column each for the school name, location, contact info, subjects studied (I think I put “general” or “college prep” for everything but college degrees), GPA, did you graduate, etc. The HR lady basically didn’t care how much of it was filled out as long as the filling out was drama-free.

    2. CollegeAdmin

      I remember the application I filled out in high school for my retail job asked for your elementary school, high school, and college – all of them had a “subjects studied” box. I resisted the temptation to put down “the alphabet, basic colors, and sharing 101” for elementary school.

    3. Rayner

      But that’s deliberately undercutting themselves because yes, candidates who call up and query about the boxes aren’t the right fit (I disagree with this assessment, but whatever). However, the best candidates with a choice will self select out because they’ll wonder if a company doesn’t have a decent hiring process, what else doesn’t it have?

  8. some1

    A lot of Office Managers work there way up the admin ladder from being a receptionist or entry-level admin. If you graduated high school/got your GED , it’s likely you would not have taken the ACT/SATs if you were going to secretarial school (when they had those) or planning to enter the job market right away.

    1. CollegeAdmin

      The SAT and ACT are both tests taken by high school students and often used as criteria for college admissions. The SAT is more common on the east coast while the ACT is common on the west coast.

      I know less about the GREs, but they’re sort of like the SAT or ACT but for graduate school.

      1. Laura

        And both SAT and ACT are an American thing. Other countries either have other tests, or no tests at all for college admissions.

      2. De Minimis

        ACT is also common in the Midwest/South. When I was in high school only a handful of students took the SAT, usually the ones who were looking at attending college outside of the area.

  9. CollegeAdmin

    I am a whiz at standardized tests – I loved the SAT and scored extremely well. But that was six years ago. I would think that a potential employer would be more interested in what I’ve done since then that would be more useful, like getting my bachelor’s degree and being successfully employed. Where do companies come up with this stuff?

    1. AnonAthon

      Same here. I did super well on the SAT, but that was over a decade ago and I didn’t study for it — so my good score isn’t even indicative of good work habits! All those tests measure is whether you’re good at taking them.

      1. Kelly L.

        Yup, I’m a great bubble-filler-outer. Don’t know why. But it doesn’t relate much to my work ability or lack thereof.

    2. Jamie

      I would like very much to take these tests for a living.

      What companies think they are gleaning from this I have no idea. This whole notion is ridiculous.

      1. CollegeAdmin

        Jamie, if you find a career that would let you do that, I’d join you in a heartbeat.

        At one point in middle school, I thought being the person who calculated all the correct answers for a math textbook would be an awesome job. Actually, I still think that would be fun.

      2. Anonymous

        Through high school I crushed on standardized tests. Always 99th percentile or higher. And I wasn’t hung up on getting a perfect score so they were just a breeze relative to other school work, which required putting in time working. I did get a perfect score on some kind of standardized test related to chemistry or biology at the end of high school.

        The GRE was the first standardized test that I didn’t feel that I simply aced, and got “only” something like 95th percentile overall, and 90th or 91st in math which annoyed me. But the conditions in the room I took the test were so bad (extreme cold) that the company providing the test offered everyone who took it at that space on that occasion a free second test. I declined, but that news cheered me a little.

        There was very little test prep when I took those things (or, at least I didn’t do any), so they reflected some combination of educational opportunity/upbringing and intelligence, and not test prep per se. I was very very fortunate with educational opportunities – great schooling from kindergarten through college except for 6th grade. Not sure how the tests related to the ability to work.

      3. the gold digger

        In addition to taking tests for a living, how about having a reset button at the end of every semester where you are DONE with everything, get a month off, and then get to move on to something new?

  10. NBB

    Just wanted to point out that most well trained/educated psychologists are taught how standardized test scores are very poor measures of intelligence and performance, and they should be very familiar with the limitations of such scores.

    So, it’s kind of worse for a psychologist to be doing this than someone in another field. They should know better.

    1. CollegeAdmin

      Good point – I hadn’t even thought of that! It’s also worth noting that a lot of colleges are no longer requiring SAT or ACT scores to be submitted. They were optional for admissions to my alma mater.

    2. OP

      This! Even though I’m side-eyeing the test results requests, I do still think I have a lot to gain by working at a private practice beyond just the paycheck.

  11. Artemesia

    I have fairly spectacular SAT/ GRE/LSAT scores and so my vanity would be stroked by people able to use them — heck, I would be delighted to have a line on name tags

    Hello, my name is Artemesia and my GRE score is xxxx — but vanity is what it is. And silly is what it is, outside the grad school application process. Perhaps some employers feel that given grade inflation the GPA no longer represents intellect and thus add the scores. But these scores are so irrelevant to most of the work done on the job that it is an odd affectation to require them.

    And to require SAT scores once the applicant has completed college is beyond weird. It is pretty well known that while low scores tell us something that mid to high scores do not distinguish very well even for college performance and presumably much less for job performance.

  12. books

    I did an interview where I was asked for my quant GRE score. I had scored the second highest possible score, and the GRE scale is well known, especially when you’re asking for it. The interviewer then asked what my percentile was and was irritated I didn’t know and asked me to send it along. I’m thinking, I don’t know the percentile, but obviously really high?
    Things I later heard, interviewer is unsurprisingly an odd duck.

  13. Adam

    Since SAT scores are essentially about applying to college, wouldn’t any post college job make note of the fact you graduated with a degree and call it good? Not to mention you likely took the SATs 4-5 years ago and were probably not a legal adult at the time. LOTS of things have changed since then.

    1. OP

      Right? I took my SAT in 2006 and finished my Bachelor’s in 2010 — neither of those scores/measures/results reflect the person they might interview today!

      1. Judy

        I took my SAT in 1986 (before the first re-scoring) and the GRE in 1992. I’m not sure what those scores would say about me today.

        1. anonymous

          Ditto this. My scores on those tests have always been far more lackluster than my accomplishments, either in college or career. I also took those tests in the early 80s and have no idea how I would even track down the scores. (I remember them, but I assume you’re supposed to get some documentation.)

  14. R the Manager

    Anyone else forget theirs? I have a vague memory of mine…

    Plus, what about the fact that the scoring system changed a few years ago and will change again?

    1. Rayner

      I feel ridiculous because I’ve only been out of school for less than ten years – left at sixteen and went to college, in the UK, which is different from the US – and already the exam system I sat my final year stuff in is in the process of being phased out. God knows what’ll happen by the time any children I may have get to school.

      My mother has the issue of the exams she took often no longer appearing in living memory of her interviewers so she constantly gets the “what’s what? What does it equate to now?” comments. It’s a little grating for her.

    2. Harriet

      Since I took the SAT in 1973, I have no idea what my specific score was, and it would be meaningless since the whole scoring system was revamped. When do we get to stop dragging the past behind us? It feels intrusive to me.

    3. Elle D

      I took the SAT the year the scoring system changed, so I actually have 2 scores. I know I did well, but honestly don’t remember the exact number of either score! I’m sure my mother has them saved somewhere, but my SAT scores aren’t a document I keep around to reference. If I had to fill out an application that requested my SAT scores I’d either have to call my mother up and have her dig around for them or make something up that sounds reasonable.

    4. Anonymous

      I don’t remember mine but remember being in the 99th percentile or higher for every standardized test I took in high school except for one where I was 97th percentile (this is a correction to a post I made a few minutes ago where I said I was 99th+ in everything – it was all a long time ago).

      GRE I think I was 95th percentile overall with 90th or 91st for the quant portion and much higher scores for the other parts.

  15. Stephanie

    Big consulting firms require standardized test scores. My friend’s business school’s career center had everyone put their GMAT scores on their résumés. My best guess is that they’re an easy way to distinguish candidates with similar experience? Beats me. As someone who does decently, but not amazing, on standardized tests, I feel like all those show is how well you can take that particular test.

    1. Harriet

      Exactly! Test taking is a very specific skill, and these days with test coaches, are essentially indicative of how much cash your parents could front for the added practice and instruction, not your native ability.

      1. Editor

        I think good test takers are pretty good readers and also good with nuances of language. Beyond that, I think they have a sense for pattern and tricks of multiple-choice testing — I’m projecting here, but I did find that “informed strategic guesses” paid off for me, particularly on the NYS Regents exams.

  16. Anonie

    I sent my resume to a Boys & Girls Club once and they sent me an application to fill out that asked how I paid for college. I could not for the life of me understand why that was their business. I ended up telling I was no longer interested in the position.

    1. Stephanie

      OMG, I had that happen too. I filled out how I funded college, but I was baffled as to the relevance.

      1. College Career Counselor

        They likely want to see if you worked during college as a proxy to determine your work ethic/motivation. I think it’s a stupid question as well!

    2. Alexa

      I imagine that was because a lot of children who participate in Boys and Girls club are low income and so will have to work to pay for college, apply for grants and financial aid, etc etc. I wonder if they wanted to know the extent to which you would be able to offer students support in going through the process and serve as role-model of someone who figured out how to get through college paying their own way. I agree that they should have asked for the information more delicately.

      A tutoring program I worked with in college similarly stressed talking about your financial background with students because if they’re going to be first generation college students they may not have any other resources to go to in navigating the process.

      1. Mints

        Yeah I think the real question would be closer to “How comfortable are you with providing support to low-income and first generation students”
        Which seems relevant, and you could talk about personal experience if you want

  17. Brett

    I once worked for ACT, and they required your entire slate of standardized score for some (not all) jobs there.

    The reason being that standardized scores also show your ability to take and understand standardized tests. Extremely good test takers are often also good question writers and answer scorers. Test writing, in particular, had mandatory cut off test scores on certain standardized tests. If you have not taken them yet, then you might take them as part of the application (you don’t have to pay for the test, but it is not an official score either).

    How does this relate to the OP’s position? The testing field is dominated by psychologists (especially psychometricians). It is possible that the hiring psychologist has been connected to psychometrics during their career and has picked up the standard hiring practices of that field.

    1. Brett

      Just to add to this…
      I took the GRE _after_ working at ACT and completely rocked it thanks to the knowledge I had by then of question writing and adaptive testing. I had plenty of co-workers that had similar experiences.

      “Oh, that’s an attractive distracter to that prompt and that stem is logistically inconsistent, so it has to be that question…. And that writing prompt is a Hegelian Dialectic, so it only needs a two paragraph body and I can use name dropper citations.”

      1. annie

        Really good point. I have always been lucky to be “naturally good” at test-taking – personally I think it is just an instinct, and it does not really reflect how smart you are or even if you know the material. My best friend was “naturally bad” at test-taking, although we both were honor students with similar good grades in almost all the same classes. After my friend went to college where she got a degree in education and became a teacher, she had studied test-taking and was then able to game any future test she took. She actually took the ACT and SAT practice tests as an adult because she was teaching her students about them, and ended up with very different scores. Her intelligence had obviously not changed, just her knowledge of the psychology of testing and test-taking skills. As an added benefit, she’s my favorite person to do pub quiz with at the bar! :)

    2. Joey

      That doesn’t mean they’re good at writing tests. it just means they’re good at replicating what’s already been created, no?

      1. Brett

        Since all questions derive from a specific test standard, replicating what’s already been created is the most important skill.
        You also have to be able to break down a prompt and stems (question and answers) so that you see the paths that get you from the prompt to each incorrect stem, as well as being able to clearly identify a single legally defensible best answer. There are no random stems to throw off guessers; each incorrect stem has a specific mistake or set of mistakes that leads the test taker to that stem, also known as building an attractive distracter. Really good standardized test takers do this naturally when they take tests; they not only find the correct answer but figure out why the wrong answers are wrong.

  18. JMegan

    There’s a great article on The Onion* today about the SAT – new changes include putting a welcoming mint on the front cover and making all questions about 13th-century Mongolia to make it culturally relevant. :)

    *For those who aren’t familiar with it, The Onion is a satirical news site – very much *not* to be taken seriously!

  19. College Career Counselor

    Part-time job at a private practice? Ridiculous. For college students applicants in consulting or finance, I’ve seen the SAT requested/required, along with the GPA. While it’s used as a proxy for ability/potential, they also like to make sure that these things (GPA, test scores) confirm each other.

  20. Alexa

    I wonder if it was required or just an option on the form – I think sometimes when companies [poorly] design applications, they ask for the kitchen sink of information, just because they can.

    I’ve been on a number of hiring committees where the forms applicants filled out included SAT/GRE scores but certainly no one looked at them seriously. Plus it’s awkward to discuss a candidates SAT scores in any kind of critical manner because you don’t know what scores other people on the hiring panel received, so you can’t really say, “thats very low.”

  21. Legal jobs

    I disagree. I have friends in psych and academia . I am a lawyer.

    This is not unique to academia. Its reflective of any status based profession with a glut.

    I guess lawyers are far more status based than other positions that you may see. There are many irrational wants that employers will include in job descriptions. I think that is what the test scores question is really addressing. Proof of status. That you belong.

    I regularly see ads that expect top grades and school even as long as ten years after law school .

    The reason? Too many qualified lawyers. From a career stand point, it is a red flag. Employers make requests that say nothing about the ability to do the job because because they can. I happen to have the requisite academic background, but there are other status based hurdles.

    One of the many “must have” is ” big law firm” even if the position requires skills not typical of big law experience.

    Its a way to weed out. The same in academia.

  22. MissD

    I’ve been asked for my GPA and transcripts for certain government or academic jobs, but never for my GRE scores. And I actually never took the SAT or any other tests for school so I wouldn’t even have them!

    It seems a little excessive, but I guess you could supply what makes the most sense (probably college GPA and GRE in this case) since you are a graduate student and they would naturally be interested in your progress.

  23. Jill

    UGH! This is an awful thing to request! For me…

    * The section on the ACT that I scored the highest on was the section I GUESSED the most on. What does that tell you?

    * My GPA while working on my undergrad was barely a 3.00. But that’s because I moved out at 18 and worked two full time jobs to pay my tuition so that I wouldn’t have to take on loans. Thus, I graduated debt free, unlike many of my peers. So I should get dinged for a sucky GPA – but get no credit for being hard working and financially responsible at 19? That’s unfair!

    And what if it’s been years since you’re out of school? Many people got lousy scores in their youth but matured, got real life experience, and are excellent employees. To judge older folks on scores they got ages ago is just ridiculous!

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