THE EFFECT OF MANDATORY COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS ON POSTSECONDARY ATTAINMENT AND CHOICE

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of requiring and paying for all public high school students to take a college entrance exam, a policy adopted by eleven states since 2001. I show that prior to the policy, for every ten poor students who score college-ready on the ACT or SAT, there are an additional five poor students who would score college-ready but who take neither exam. I use a difference-in-differences strategy to estimate the effects of the policy on postsecondary attainment and find small increases in enrollment at four-year institutions. The effects are concentrated among students less likely to take a college entrance exam in the absence of the policy and students in the poorest high schools. The students induced by the policy to enroll persist through col- lege at approximately the same rate as their inframarginal peers. I calculate that the policy is more cost-effective than traditional student aid at boosting postsecondary attainment.

Joshua Hyman

Department of Public Policy University of Connecticut West Hartford, CT 06117

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