Students & Parents | General Education

Could a Post-College SAT Become the New Norm?

PAYSCALE   |  September 6, 2013 by Jennifer Wadsworth

As employers lose faith in the almighty GPA, they’re looking for other other benchmarks to gauge competence. They need only to wait another school year. Beginning in 2014, about 200 colleges in the U.S. plan to roll out a post-grad exit exam to give companies a better idea of a grad’s real-world readiness.

The 90-minute Collegiate Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) expands the Collegiate Learning Assessment already in place at 700 schools to measure their own performance. The CLA+ uses a scale similar to the SAT’s, with 1600 points, to gauge problem solving, writing, quantitative reasoning and critical thinking.

“What we’re offering to students is the opportunity to illustrate to employers that they have these skills,” Chris Jackson, director of business development at the Council for Aid to Education, which created the CLA+, tells MSN News.

The point is to assess a person’s critical thinking chops, to see if they’re ready to think on their feet on the job.

For the longest time, people trusted colleges to train young adults into critically thinking, work-ready citizens. The truth is, however, that the majority of graduates don’t even reach proficiency levels in core subjects.

In an age of search engines and information overload, the question is less about how much a person knows and more about whether they know how to use data, Michael Poliakoff or the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, tells the Wall Street Journal in a video on the topic.

“This is a test of the things that every college graduate ought to be able to do,” Poliakoff says in the WSJ video interview. “And something that employers will be very interested in since it replicates the kinds of challenges one would face every day in an employment situation.”


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.

Discover More