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Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

Revolution in College Admissions: SAT and ACT Now Optional

Revolution in College Admissions: SAT and ACT Now Optional

Colleges across the United States are adopting an optional standardized test policy, allowing students to decide whether to submit SAT or ACT scores with their applications. 

For decades, SAT and ACT scores have been staples in college admissions, often seen as predictors of academic success. However, the reliance on these tests has been increasingly scrutinized, with critics emphasizing their inability to account for diverse backgrounds and learning styles. Leading universities including Duke and UNC have begun implementing the optional testing policy. This shift, initially beginning its practice during the peaks of the 2020 pandemic is a response to the growing demand for a more equitable and accessible admissions process. 

Studies show that students from affluent backgrounds often score higher due to access to expensive preparation courses, creating an uneven playing field. The new policy marks a departure from decades-long reliance on standardized tests. It is being implemented by a range of institutions, from large public universities to small private colleges. 

Growing concerns about the fairness of standardized tests have driven this change. Critics argue that these tests often disadvantage students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and those with limited access to test preparation resources. 

Students nationwide have expressed relief and optimism: the change reduces the high-stakes pressure of standardized testing and allows students to showcase their abilities in other areas of their application. Early reports suggest an increase in applications, particularly from underrepresented groups. 

Schools are emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities, aligning more closely with the holistic approach colleges are adopting. Some colleges have noted a more diverse applicant pool since adopting the policy. The policy could reshape the college admissions landscape, potentially leading to more diverse and well-rounded student bodies. It also prompts a broader discussion about how academic potential is measured. 

Experts suggest this change might influence younger students’ attitudes towards education, potentially shifting from test-focused learning to a more balanced educational approach from an early age. This could potentially lead to a generation of students who are more engaged in learning for its intrinsic value, rather than just for test performance.

Opinions vary among educators and experts; some praise the move for promoting equity, while others worry about the loss of a standardized benchmark for assessing student readiness. Critics argue that the absence of standardized tests could lead to other forms of inequity, such as an overreliance on extracurriculars or essays, which could also favor more privileged students. Without a standardized testing benchmark, comparing academic preparedness across diverse educational backgrounds becomes more challenging. Admissions officers might find it difficult to assess the academic rigor and grading standards of different high schools, potentially disadvantaging students from less well-known or under-resourced schools. 

Additionally, there are worries about potential grade inflation, as schools might adjust grades to compensate for the absence of test scores. This could arise as schools attempt to make their students appear more competitive, potentially undermining the reliability of grades as a measure of student ability and knowledge. 

Another concern is the overemphasis on extracurricular activities, which not all students have equal access to, or could pressure students to overextend themselves. This trend might also undervalue the achievements of students who, due to personal circumstances, cannot participate extensively in such activities. 

International students, who often rely on standardized test scores to demonstrate their academic prowess, might face new challenges. Admissions committees will need to find new ways to fairly evaluate these students, who come from a variety of educational systems with differing standards. 

As this significant shift unfolds, its ripple effects are being felt across the entire educational landscape. From high school classrooms to university campuses, the move away from standardized testing is fostering a more inclusive, diverse, and holistic educational environment. 

Counselors are now prioritizing individualized college planning that considers a student’s entire profile, including interests, extracurricular activities, and personal goals. While still in its early stages, the change is a bold step towards redefining academic success and potential in the 21st century. This shift in admissions policies is seen as a step towards a more inclusive and holistic approach to education. It reflects a growing recognition that intelligence and potential cannot be fully measured by a single test. 

 

Works Cited

Bader, Natalie. “Test Optional 2023: What Colleges Are, Which Aren’t Complete List.” SupertutorTV, 18 Mar. 2022, supertutortv.com/college/test-optional-2023-what-colleges-are-which-arent/.

Bauer-Wolf, Jeremy . “Over 1,900 Colleges Not Requiring SAT, ACT Scores for Fall 2024 Admissions.” Higher Ed Dive, 26 July 2023, www.highereddive.com/news/over-1900-colleges-not-requiring-sat-act-scores-for-fall-2024-admissions/689110/.

Clark, Jeffrey, and Fox News. “SAT Defended from “Misguided” Attacks as Test Increasingly Becomes Optional for Students.” New York Post, 9 Jan. 2024, nypost.com/2024/01/09/news/sat-defended-from-misguided-attacks-as-test-increasingly-becomes-optional-for-students/. Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.

Jimenez, Kayla. “SAT, ACT Testing Requirements Paused during Pandemic Are Now Permanently Optional at Some Colleges.” USA TODAY, 2 Mar. 2023, www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2023/03/02/sat-act-test-optional-policies-covid-become-permanent/11385454002/.

Nietzel, Michael T. “More than 80% of Four-Year Colleges Won’t Require Standardized Tests for Fall 2023 Admissions.” Forbes, 15 Nov. 2022, www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltnietzel/2022/11/15/more-than-80-of-four-year-colleges-wont-require-standardized–tests-for-fall-2023-admissions/?sh=caaf7607fb96. Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.

Whittle, Matt. “Do You Need the SAT for College Admission? – Forbes Advisor.” Www.forbes.com, 3 July 2023, www.forbes.com/advisor/education/student-resources/colleges-that-dont-require-sat-act/.

 

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About the Contributor
Masha Timchenko, Staff Writer
(She/her) Masha is a junior who is spending her first year as a member of the Eagle's Eye. Other than dumping her thoughts on paper, she enjoys surrounding herself with activities like making clothing and accessories since she believes it is her duty to lucidly dress the world. She also swims year-around and plays the violin. She has two cats!
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