Goodbye, SAT: Why Test-Optional Admission Policies Are Here To Stay

Story by Ben Fyke, Staff Writer

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The SAT and ACT are staples of a high school student’s upperclassmen years. Students stress out over these standardized tests, which are used by most colleges to determine applicant eligibility.

In recent years, however, some colleges have phased out the standardized test score requirement. According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, an estimated 1,000 of 7,000 universities do not require students to submit test scores. This test-optional policy is gaining in popularity, as colleges turn to factors like grades and extracurricular activities to judge a student’s likelihood of success.

Do test-optional schools see any significant results or improvements? Yes, according to a study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The NACAC discovered that at schools not requiring the SAT or ACT, the total number of applications increased by an average of 29 percent at private schools and 11 percent at public colleges. Also, test-optional universities saw some gain in enrollment of black and Latino students, although the increase varied between colleges. This is support for a major SAT/ACT criticism: the tests favor white students because statistically, they have more access to more test-prep resources, resulting in higher test scores.

The “ultimate proof of success” though, according to the report, is the rate at which so-called “nonsubmitters” graduated. While these students experienced a dip in freshman-year grades, they all completed their degrees at the same or higher rate as those who submitted test scores. This piece of evidence proves the College Board wrong: high test scores are not a reliable predictor of post-high school success.

The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. eliminated the test score requirement in 2015. Carolyn Rea, a senior at Stonington High School, decided to not include her SAT scores in her application. She was admitted this December in the Early Decision pool of applicants. “I definitely think I benefited from their policy because it allowed them to see me beyond a specific number,” she said. “I don’t think I would have been admitted if it weren’t for this policy. I think that more schools should implement test-optional policies because the standardized testing system is not a guarantee of a student’s academic abilities.”

In Connecticut, the SAT is used as the state standardized test to track student growth. Also, the vast majority of schools still require students to submit scores. Because of these factors, students should still put forth their best effort during the SAT or ACT. However, they should also know test-optional schools are an option in case they do not perform well. The increased rate in applicants to test-optional universities might also send a message to traditional test-required colleges, causing a greater implementation of these new policies. This will lead to a future where students are not judged by flawed tests where students are defined by a simple number out of 1600 or 36.

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