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Test scores higher for Class of 1993

By Prabhat Mehta

Standardized test scores for the entering Class of 1993 were generally higher than those for students admitted last year, according to data provided by the Admissions Office.

The mean score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test math section for entering students rose from 722 for the Class of 1992 to 735 for this year's incoming freshmen. Verbal scores on the SAT rose from 618 to 621.

Performance on other standardized tests also improved. The mean math score on the American College Test for the incoming freshman class was 33, and the composite score was 30. These figures were up from last year's, according Elizabeth Johnson of the Admissions Office.

"We certainly were more aware that some faculty thought that scores should be higher," Johnson noted. She acknowledged that this influenced the judgment of admissions personnel this year but added that no explicit policy changes had been implemented.

"Last year was an aberration" because scores were not weighed as heavily as usual, Johnson said. Partially as a response to concerns by faculty members over changing admissions standards and declining student performance, the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid released a report in May suggesting that the Admissions Office place greater emphasis on grades and test scores in mathematics and science and that "non-academic [credentials] be considered mostly as a means of distinguishing among individuals of comparable academic ability."

Little change in number

of women and minorities

Currently, 1071 students are expected to enter as freshmen. Actual enrollment, however, will probably drop by about 20 students in what is known as the "summer melt," Johnson said. Some students decide over the summer for "economic and other reasons" that they cannot attend MIT in the fall, she explained.

Of the 1071 presently expected to enroll, 359 are women. This figure, which is 33.5 percent of the class, remains essentially unchanged from last year, and about four percent shy of the Class of 1990's record-high percentage. The percentage of women was maintained despite a pledge by Director of Admissions Michael Behnke last year to address the lack of progress in admitting women.

The percentage of underrepresented minorities declined from last year's record high of 17.3 percent to 14.5 percent this year. This decline of over 16 percent, however, still represents an increase over previous years. The Admissions Office expanded minority recruitment efforts beginning with the Class of 1992, when a full-time staff member was hired to work on attracting minorities. This year's percentage of students accepted who were underrepresented minorities was the second highest ever, with last year being the only year with a higher percentage.

The 155 underrepresented minorities expected to enroll include 4 Native Americans, 22 Puerto Ricans, 80 blacks, and 49 Mexican Americans. The rest of the class consists of 21 other Hispanic Americans, 256 Asian Americans, 563 whites, and 76 international students.

Applications this year dropped by 10 percent, but the quality of the applicant pool increased, according to Behnke. All Ivy League schools this year except Princeton also experienced a decline in the number of applicants, Behnke said.

The size of the entering class, however, will be slightly larger than that of a typical class because of the need to increase revenue in the wake of MIT's budget problems. While, after "summer melt," this year's class will have about 1050 students, recent classes have had about 1000 students. The percentage of students accepted this year increased from 25 percent to 28 percent.