Should Colleges Move Away From Requiring the SAT and Other Standardized Tests?

Marissa Vassallo, Student Writer

The discussion around moving away from standardized tests, like the SAT, has been around for many years, but it became very relevant this year when many universities became test-optional due to COVID-19. Many universities went test-optional this year simply because not everyone was able to take the SAT/ACT, but the discussion on the table now is whether or not they should keep it that way for years to follow. Although it may seem like the idea of becoming test-optional may be much harder for larger schools, it is not impossible. Pennsylvania State University, which receives around 70,000 first-year student applications every year, has announced that they will remain test-optional through 2023. For students who applied test-optional this year, Penn State looked at student’s academic records in high school, especially in academic areas that are related to their major. Penn State admissions team will continue to do this through the following two years as well. 

Pennridge High School Senior, Amanda Baranowski, took the SAT twice but decided to not send her scores to any universities. She was certainly worried about applying test-optional, as she feared that it would have an effect on the schools that she would get into. Amanda was worried as she thinks that SAT and ACT scores play a very large role in college decisions, as colleges make their standards well known to their applicants when it comes to SAT/ACT scores. When asked if she hopes to see universities stay test-optional in years to come she responded by saying that they definitely should. Her idea was that when doing so they need to put into place something that takes the place of the SATs that would give “a more accurate depiction of students’ intelligence”. This may look like an essay or a newly developed test, but that is up to the universities to hopefully figure out. 

Another Pennridge High School Senior, Emily Amsden, who will be attending John Hopkins University decided to send her SAT score as she was able to reach her targeted score. Emily has a much different perspective on the SAT and other standardized tests, as she believes universities need something that measures their applicant’s abilities other than high school grades since all high schools have different systems. When Emily was asked if she thought the SAT accurately gages a student’s intelligence she responded with, “It gages your ability to work and prepare for something, not necessarily your intelligence”. Unlike Amanda’s answer, Emily does not see a reason for colleges to go test-optional in the future because it is such a crucial part of the college application process, as it helps universities compare students on a standardized placement. 

As shown in the image above, out of 52 participants, 75% of them believe that college admissions should go test-optional. They also were asked in a follow up question why they had selected either yes or no. From the participants who said that college admissions should go test-optional, there were a variety of reasons, everything from how it does not correctly represent a student to the anxiety that it causes students. Standardized tests, like the SAT and ACT, have been talked about for years and will continue to be talked about until a change is made for the better.