In recent years, most colleges have eliminated their requirement of the SAT and ACT, accordingly adjusting their requirements and policies. Although the onset of the pandemic forced colleges to adopt this test optional/blind policy due to the initial shutdown of testing centers, more than 75% of colleges have now chosen to uphold the policy in 2022.
The initial wave of test blind/optional policies started with the University of Califronia schools as they addressed their concern that the testing is discriminatory and often favors the elite in society. For many years now, paying excessive amounts of money for tutoring or even cheating has become far too normalized, prevalent, and easily manageable. The economic advantage has been statistically seen to correlate with those who are white or Asian American, putting many minorities or those with a lower economic status at a disadvantage by submitting their test scores.
This led to big name schools exposing both the classist and racist roots of standardized testing. The Stanford Daily even came out with a paper addressing how “the extent of educational inequity in the United States is more apparent than ever” and moreover, why they have been chosen as the number 2 ranked university in the world to waive their testing requirement.
Senior Sean McGinnis, who spent an abundance of time on the SAT, offered his opinion and insight on his experience.
“I think that when it comes to SAT scores and standardized tests, they’ve been
helpful for me because I am someone who generally does well on those types of tests,” McGinnis expressed. “I did well on my SAT so I’m personally hoping that schools outside of California at least will consider this to help me with my admission decision. From a farther back standpoint, I think that test scores are very unfair because those who are underprivileged and don’t have the means to do test prep are at a significant disadvantage. When I was going through the whole process, I really saw how much money it costs and if you’re someone who can’t afford it you really are in a bad place because test prep definitely gives you a massive boost in your score. So while I think it helped me out I dont think it should be a factor in college admissions.”
McGinnis went on to discuss the uneven playing field created by these tests.
“This makes it harder for them to choose but at the same time, what can you do when the scores directly correlate to your wealth? I think they have to replace their focus on extracurriculars and your essay. There are less data points to go off of as a college admissions officer, which makes it harder for them but at the same time, the thing that gets you into college should not be your test score or economic status. It’s a very two-dimensional aspect of a person,” he said.
Junior Jakob Peterson offered his opinion on test scores going blind as he is in the midst of the testing process himself.
“I think it’s good that colleges are doing the blind option or not requiring the SAT/ACT because the prior policy limits some groups due to the pressure of getting a good SAT score,” Peterson said. “For example, groups of low income, such as myself, and other groups of lower economic status or minorities could have trouble getting high SAT scores. It costs a lot of money for the tutoring to get a good score which makes it a dumb test.”
Senior Camille Goldstein also discussed her journey dealing with the SAT and why she chose not to submit her scores to colleges.
“I definitely agree with the blind policy, especially because my sophomore speech was about literally how these standardized tests don’t determine someone’s intelligence,” Goldstein explained. “They don’t really separate you from someone else’s worth so I personally chose not to take it. I didn’t want to stress out this year especially since I want to go my first two years to community college. However, I’m terrible at testing and I get super horrible test anxiety and stuff like that so I think one-on-one time and personal interviews are much better ways to get to know someone holistically. Also through essays and one’s ability to express themselves in a unique way says a lot about a person, I think.”
Senior Brooke Slovensky discussed her passion towards moving to a test optional policy.
“I think it’s definitely very good that most schools are now going test blind because I don’t think the SAT is the proper depiction of a student,” Slovensky asserted. “I think it’s more of a test of privilege honestly, and who can afford to have tutoring. You have parents that are willing to spend thousands of dollars at a minimum on their kids tutoring. In these tutoring sessions, they aren’t even focusing on teaching how to do the math, instead they are teaching tips and tricks on how to get the answer the quickest. That’s just definitely not fair to the amount of kids who are just trying to answer the questions with their own knowledge, which should be more what the test is about.”
Clearly, the future of standardized testing is rapidly changing with the common agreement that the prior mandatory testing policy puts minority and low-income students at a significant disadvantage. With the abundance of commentary from students in addition to the popular stance of the UC’s and CSU’s, the college application process is likely to evolve dramatically in the coming years. And that’s a good thing.