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Student Deferment and the Selective Service College Qualification Test, 1951-1967

Frusciano, Thomas J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Aptitude Tests, College Students, Higher Education, Military Personnel, Public Policy, Screening Tests, Selective Service College Qualification Test


The history of military manpower policy and college student deferment is reviewed, with attention to the Selective Service College Qualification Test (SSCQT). By passage of the Selective Service Act of 1948, Congress recognized the need to maintain an adequate number of scientific, professional, and specialized personnel in both civilian and military pursuits. A student deferment plan was proposed whereby candidates could qualify to continue their education on the basis of class standing or a specified score on a nationally-administered educational aptitude test. In the fall of 1950, the Selective Service System contracted with Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the development of the SSCQT, a 150-item examination measuring a student's verbal and mathematical ability. The student deferment plan had vocal proponents and opponents. From 1951 to 1954, ETS tested over 500,000 students and conducted a statistical analysis program to supply the Selective Service System with information needed to operate the testing program. The SSCQT was later operated by Science Research Associates for about 6 years. The Vietnam War and related anti-war and anti-draft movements renewed public debate over military manpower policy in the mid-1960s. In 1973 Congress replaced the Selective Service System with an all-volunteer army. A selected bibliography is provided.

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