Don’t test me

Colleges should retain a permanent test-optional policy to help high school students across the board.

Colleges have experimented with new test-optional policies, but they should remain as permanent changes for the betterment of high school students across the nation. | Graphic by Emma Liu ’22/Staff

No test required, hooray! Colleges have begun to experiment with test optional policies, but for the benefit of the students, those changes should be here to stay. As someone who dreads standardized tests, this news could not be better! I am clearly not alone, as applications for top-tier schools have gone up significantly. While the increase in applications may make it more difficult to get into top-tier schools, many worthy students might not have even considered applying to those schools if they had required test scores. The SAT and ACT may have once been an accurate indicator of a student’s abilities, but they have become a flawed system to determine the intelligence of a student complicated by an entire industry devoted to test preparation for those able to pay. While the test-optional policy is brand new to many colleges this year, all institutions of higher learning should keep a permanent test-optional policy.

One of the largest issues with the SAT and ACT is what they measure. While many believe they measure a student’s intellectual abilities and readiness for college, the reality is that these exams actually measure how well a student can take a standardized test. This negatively impacts students across the board, as too many of them tend to do well academically but panic when faced with a grueling three-hour standardized test. In addition, the students that tend to do well on the SAT or ACT are students who have practiced them for several months to years beforehand. In fact, many students who succeed on the SAT or ACT start studying for them in middle school or even earlier, while others may never have the opportunity to practice them at all right up until the test date. For these reasons, the SAT and ACT both tend to fail to accurately represent the intelligence of students and therefore do not measure a student’s potential collegiate success.

While many people believe that the SAT and ACT are crucial for measuring the intelligence and potential collegiate success of students, that is clearly not the case.  ”

A test-optional policy would also make the college application process much less stressful. Nobody looks forward to spending their weekends practicing the SAT or ACT for months before the test. Taking a long exam at an unfamiliar school with unrecognizable students can also cause great anxiety. The worst news of all is when a student has outstanding grades but terrible SAT and ACT scores and therefore cannot apply to the college of his or her choice. Implementing a permanent test-optional policy at every college would dramatically reduce the stress of forming a college application. In addition, students who have high GPAs and academic standing would not need to worry about these standardized tickets to higher education and therefore do not need to have concerns over being falsely represented. On the other hand, if a student has a lower GPA than they would like, that student has the option to take the SAT or ACT in order to increase his or her chances of getting into college of their choice.

The most significant reason why all colleges should adopt a test-optional policy is because the SAT and ACT create an undesired ethnic divide in applicant pools. More often than not, due to standardized testing, white students per capita tend to get accepted into college more than African American and Hispanic students. Also, wealthy students tend to earn higher SAT and ACT scores than low-income students because they are able to hire tutors and take the tests multiple times. With a permanent test-optional policy at every college, applicant pools would be guaranteed to be more diverse.

While many people believe that the SAT and ACT are crucial for measuring the intelligence and potential collegiate success of students, that is clearly not the case. Rather than measuring intelligence, the SAT and ACT measure how well students do on standardized tests as well as differences in family incomes. In addition, the SAT and ACT add an unreasonable amount of stress to preparing a college application and they provide an unnecessary divide between ethnic and racial student groups. With the addition of a permanent test-optional policy at every college, applicant pools would be much more diverse, and the college application process would reduce a substantial amount of pressure on students as they prepare to apply to college. After all, we are more than just a number!