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The ACT of Enrollment: The College Enrollment Effects of State-Required College Entrance Exam Testing Open Access

Since 2001 Colorado, Illinois, and Maine have all enacted policies that require high school juniors to take college entrance exams—the SAT or the ACT. One goal of these policies was to increase college enrollment based on the belief that requiring students to take these exams would make students more likely to consider college as a viable option. Relying on quasi-experimental methods and synthetic control comparison groups, this article presents the effects of this state-mandated college entrance-exam testing. Based on both state- and individual-level analyses I find evidence that entrance exam policies were associated with increases in overall college enrollment in Illinois and that such policies re-sorted students in all three states between different types of institutions. In particular, Colorado saw an increase in enrollment at private four-year institutions, while Illinois and Maine both saw a decrease in enrollment at pubic two-year institutions. Increases in enrollment at schools that require entrance exams for admissions support the hypothesis that lack of exam scores can present barriers to college entry.

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