After COVID, some colleges are ditching standardized testing

Many colleges have found it unfair to require standardized test scores as a factor in the  admissions process as a result of to the conformities made during the pandemic this past year.

Some colleges are becoming “test optional,” meaning the standardized test scores will not impact college applications. It remains to be seen how long this will remain, but it has shown to be beneficial for students applying during the pandemic.

“I got accepted into Salisbury and Delaware University so far, without submitting my SAT score. I believe that the SAT does not reflect who you truly are as a student, since it is only a test on two subjects. I believe COVID-19 has hindered everyone greatly, by holding us back a year, by having to learn virtually,” said Luke Bahlman, a senior here at Stephen Decatur High School.

In Worcester County Public Schools, masks are still in effect, as well as social distancing and frequent sanitations. This has caused major setbacks in learning like not having group work or not being able to get close to other students.

Many seniors are taking advantage of the upper-hand COVID-19 has gifted them by applying to colleges while the test optional rule is still in full effect.

While Bahlman said he believes that COVID-19 hindered learning, Mandi Wells, the testing coordinator at Decatur, said she believes otherwise.

“With no way to give assessments to students, they were able to earn a testing waiver by passing the class,” she said. “Some students may have struggled with passing these exams or using them to become College and Career Ready. With the waivers, CCR was also waived at the State level. This meant that if students had a high enough GPA, they were eligible to take college level coursework, rather than going by what an exam said about their knowledge and skill level.”

Salisbury University and University of Delaware are not the only schools going test optional. Even Ivy League universities such as Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, and Brown have made admissions for the Fall 2022 semester “test optional.”

As a result, there has been an influx of Ivy league applications, with the hope of being accepted to a school seemingly unachievable in years past, according to The Washington Post. Columbia’s applications were up 51 percent this year, and Harvard’s were up 42 percent, and there were also double-digit increases at the other Ivy League schools, The Post reported.

The question of whether the SAT and ACT are an actual measure of one’s intelligence has been debated for years. Last year, the average SAT score in America was 1051. For comparison, the minimum SAT score to get into Harvard, before it was test optional, was 1580, placing the test taker in the 75th percentile.

According to Wells, “universities now must dig deeper into student applications. They must investigate their coursework and the grades that students have earned. More rides on a student being well-rounded, as colleges must look at activity involvement and humanitarianism.”

Wells added that the downside to this is that all school systems are different. If colleges are now accepting students based on GPA and grades, there could be a vast difference between one school district’s grading policies and another’s. “There would be no standard test that would truly be able to compare students to each other,” she said.

For students who excel in extracurricular activities more than academics, this is a great opportunity. Because of the SAT becoming optional at most colleges, the weight of being a part of the community and participating in sports and electives are becoming more of a focal point in the admissions process.

The newfound idea of becoming “test optional” has opened a door to the idea of how important the test really is. While some are in favor of the test being an accurate depiction of ones knowledge, others challenge this idea.

“Standardized tests might measure how well students can cram before a high-stakes exam, but say little about long-term study habits and work ethic,” according to a report in Forbes magazine.

There have even been scandals regarding cheating on the SAT, from students having others take the test under their name, to electronic help to proctors altering answers. In October 2020, there was one case of cheating that made headlines when a test proctor was criminally charged for fixing student scores in exchange for bribes.

“The scandal furthered the perception that standardized tests are rigged in favor of rich students who can use their resources to secure better scores on the exams,” according to the Forbes report.

While schools becoming test optional is considered temporary, the compiled evidence of possible unfairness and statistics against the accuracy of the SAT being a good depiction of ones intelligence has proven to question the idea of getting rid of it for good. This will vary between colleges, but while it is definite, it is a good idea for students to apply to colleges while they can, before the SAT possibly become mandatory again.