Fake it ‘til you make it: Measuring personality in university admissions

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LaPointe, Danielle
Merchant, Stefan
non-cognitive measures , personality , university admissions , measurement
Each year, university admissions officers endeavour to select the best and brightest from a set of applicants. Traditionally, cognitive measures such as high school grade point average and standardized test scores are weighted most heavily in admissions decisions. However, there is growing concern that cognitive measures fail to capture other important skills that are correlated with academic achievement and therefore do not adequately predict success in higher education. In order to get a broader and more complete picture of each applicant’s academic potential, many admissions professionals are exploring the use of non-cognitive measures to capture the soft skills that are valued in education and correlated with academic success. Specifically, personality is a non-cognitive trait that has gained increased attention in admissions contexts. In particular, current research shows that the personality trait Conscientiousness demonstrates consistent, strong positive correlations with academic achievement. However, trait instability during late adolescence and early adulthood, contextual influences on personality, and limitations associated with commonly used self-report personality measures make it challenging to justify the inclusion of personality assessments in high stakes admissions decisions. This paper explores the role of personality measurement in predicting academic success among university applicants.
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