Seniors score in 99th per­centile in national pro­fi­ciency exam. | Wiki­media Commons

Grad­u­ating Hillsdale College seniors on average scored in the 99th per­centile for the third year in a row on a national stan­dardized exam, the college announced on Tuesday.

Fifty stu­dents in the class of 2018 were among the 113,924 stu­dents nationally who took the Edu­ca­tional Testing Service’s Pro­fi­ciency Profile, a general edu­cation assessment that the college uses inter­nally and for accred­i­tation pur­poses. Hillsdale stu­dents, on average, scored in the 99th per­centile overall and in each of the seven sub­sec­tions.

“Our stu­dents are among the top in the nation when it comes to these basic skills,” said Director of Insti­tu­tional Research George Allen. “This is con­sistent. Year over year we’re getting the same results.”

Hillsdale’s average score 480.2 of 500 points com­pared to the national average of 447.0. Although the Hillsdale stu­dents taking an exam had a higher average GPA than last year’s (3.51 to 3.47), they scored slightly lower overall (last year’s was 482.4) and in every sub­section except the social sci­ences than the class of 2017.

“The change has been so small, it’s not even sig­nif­icant,” Allen said. “There’s not a large enough change to be of interest.”

The lowest score from Hillsdale was 437, ranked in the 32nd per­centile. The highest was 498, ranked in the 99th per­centile.

Senior Maria Theisen said the exam was not par­tic­u­larly chal­lenging.

“I did not by any means think the exam was a breeze, but I felt it was doable,” she said. “Most ques­tions were rel­a­tively easy to figure out if I made sure to follow all instruc­tions. Due to my liberal arts back­ground, I was able to approach ques­tions I was unfa­miliar with.”

The Pro­fi­ciency Profile tests stu­dents from liberal-arts col­leges, state uni­ver­sities, and other insti­tu­tions of higher edu­cation on critical thinking, reading, writing, math, human­ities, social sci­ences, and natural sci­ences. Hillsdale stu­dents scored lowest in writing with 121.9 of 130 and highest in reading with 126.9.

Senior Sarah Kilgore said she enjoys taking stan­dardized tests and that she found this one fairly easy. The results, she said, show the strengths of a liberal-arts cur­riculum.

“It shows that we’re com­petent, which is great,” she said. “It only tests you in a certain number of areas, which we are required to take classes in. Because of that, we are refreshed and know what we should know.”

College accred­i­tation requires a general assessment com­ponent. With changes in the core cur­riculum three years ago, the college had to come up with a new assessment for this requirement, and it chose the Pro­fi­ciency Profile. Hillsdale also uses a sophomore self-assessment survey and essay com­par­isons between freshman and sophomore year for this com­ponent.

General assess­ments help the college to determine if it is lagging any­where and put forth efforts to pick up any slack, Allen said.

“It’s a dash­board on the car,” he said. “Most of the time everyone’s fine, but some­times you have to check some­thing out.”

The exam results come as the college awaits its official re-accred­i­tation report from the Higher Learning Com­mission, Hillsdale’s accreditor.

Allen said the com­mittee that visited and assessed Hillsdale rec­om­mended to the com­mission that it re-accredit the college without any major changes.

“We have a rea­sonable expec­tation that we will be re-accredited,” Allen said. “There’s been no indi­cation of an unfa­vorable response.”