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Colleges Condemned for Using Legos in College Admissions

ACTA Condemns Nine Colleges and Universities for Agreeing to Admit College Students on the Basis of Their Ability to Work with Legos
February 7, 2000

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni today condemned nine colleges and universities for agreeing to admit college students on the basis of their ability to work with Legos—children’s building blocks.

“Reality is stranger than fiction,” said ACTA president Jerry L. Martin. “The Legos test represents the total abandonment of objective standards. It is the most subjective, arbitrary, nonsensical test ever.”

The Lego-Test is one of several hands-on activities designed by a Harvard University graduate student and funded by the Mellon Foundation to be administered to a group of 700 new York public high school seniors. The new testing approach is designed to increase the admissions of minorities and other disadvantaged students to selective colleges and universities.

Five liberal arts colleges—Beloit, Carleton, Colorado, Grinnell, and Macalaster — and four state universities — Delaware, Michigan, Penn State, and Rutgers—have agreed to admit students.

The Lego test requires a group of 8 to 10 students to take a box of Lego pieces and build a robot in 10 minutes identical to one they have been shown.

“The Lego-test is insulting to minority students and it implicitly writes them off as not being able to meet real academic standards,” Martin said. “Instead, colleges should be working with inner-city schools to give students the skills they need to succeed in life.”

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to academic freedom, quality and accountability.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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