The College Admissions Process Should Remain Test-Optional

By Sydney Gusmer, Opinions Editor

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 600 universities across the country have adopted a “test-optional” policy in their admissions processes, giving prospective students the option of whether or not to submit SAT and ACT test scores. Given the inconveniences and inequalities that characterize standardized testing, requiring test scores in the college admissions process moving forward would prove to be a futile and inequitable practice.

Students recently took practice exams for the SAT and ACT tests, as a benchmark to gauge future study habits. (Photo courtesy of Chloe Toole)

High-stakes exams like the SAT and ACT bring an additional element of stress to the college application process. Students spend significant amounts of time memorizing and repeating the information needed for these tests that take away from other learning that could actually prepare them for college-level courses of study. 

Moreover, standardized testing historically caters to students of higher socioeconomic class, as wealthier students have more access to the technology, tutors, and other resources that serve to boost test results. Despite the countless hours of studying spent by test-takers, results continually reflect levels of poverty and other socioeconomic factors, such as housing and food insecurity, along with access to healthcare more than they do teaching and learning.

The flaws of standardized testing go beyond the realm of economic disparities. Due to the stressful conditions surrounding the SAT and ACT, students who display the most academic rigor and growth in the classroom are not always the ones that perform the best on these tests. 

Alyssa Morreale, Trinity Hall’s director of college counseling department, adds, “The test-optional admissions policy that most colleges have continued this year allows each student to decide if her standardized test scores accurately reflect her academic knowledge, skills, and potential, which is not always the case.” Morreale states that test-optional policies are beneficial in “encouraging admissions counselors to place more value on other aspects of a student’s application, such as her commitment to extracurricular and service activities and her leadership skills.”

So long as students vary in their test-taking ability and economic background, SAT and ACT scores should remain an optional component to college admissions — for the results of high-stakes standardized testing are anything but standard.

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