Improving Admissions Tests

Colleges and graduate programs seek a broad range of attributes in applicants, only some of which are effectively measured in current entrance exams. Amy and Mike invited professor Robert Sternberg to explore advancements for improving admissions tests.

What are five things you will learn in this episode?

  1. What is the theory of successful intelligence?
  2. How do we test for a broader range of contributors to success?
  3. What do assessments of creativity or wisdom look like?
  4. How predictive are tests like these of college success?
  5. What are the impediments to implementing better admissions tests?


Robert J. Sternberg is Professor of Psychology in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and Honorary Professor of Psychology at Heidelberg University, Germany. Previously, Sternberg served 8 ½ years in academic administration as a university dean, senior vice-president, and president. Before that, he was IBM Professor of Psychology and Education and Professor of Management at Yale and Director of the Yale Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise.

Sternberg is a Past President of the American Psychological Association, the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Eastern Psychological Association, and the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology. Sternberg also has been president of four divisions of the American Psychological Association and Treasurer of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Sternberg’s BA is from Yale University summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, his PhD is from Stanford University, and he holds 13 honorary doctorates. Sternberg has won more than two dozen awards for his work, including the James McKeen Cattell Award (1999) and the William James Fellow Award (2017) from APS. He has won the E. Paul Torrance Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, 2006, and the Distinguished Scholar Award, also from the National Association for Gifted Children, 1985. He also is the winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Psychology (2018). He is the author of over 1800 publications.

He was cited in an APA Monitor on Psychology report as one of the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century and in a report in Archives of Scientific Psychology by Diener and colleagues as one of the top 200 psychologists of the modern era. He was cited by Griggs and Christopher in Teaching of Psychology as one of the top-cited scholars in introductory-psychology textbooks. According to Google Scholar, he has been cited over 200,000 times. He has authored textbooks in introductory psychology, cognitive psychology, and in communication in psychology. Sternberg is a member of the US National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Find Robert at


Intelligence — Robert J. Sternberg
Assessment of Creativity: Theories and Methods
Tufts and the Kaleidoscope Project
Assessment – Social Emotional Learning




Tests and the Rest is THE college admissions industry podcast. Explore all of our episodes on the show page.


Mike Bergin is the president of Chariot Learning and founder of TestBright. Amy Seeley is the president of Seeley Test Pros. If you’re interested in working with Mike and/or Amy for test preparation, training, or consulting, feel free to get in touch through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you!

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