Time to Retire Standardized Testing

Time to Retire Standardized Testing

Emily Sklenicka, staff writer

Trees bloom against bright, clear skies, birds wake up the world with their springtime chirps, and pencils scratch against endless rows of bubble sheets. Spring marks standardized testing season, and students nationwide study diligently to perform well on these college aptitude tests. However, in a post-COVID world, these tests are becoming less important for college admissions officers, leading many colleges to drop the requirement for students to submit test scores. These test-optional colleges create a holistic admissions environment, ultimately fostering greater success in incoming students.

First, test-optional policies help students stop self-rejecting. While having a grasp on what colleges are attainable for you is beneficial to the application process, low test scores can skew your perspective on whether or not you’ll get in. Often, standardized tests like the SAT don’t represent how students actually perform in classes. As Erin Einhorn wrote for NBC in April 2022, “Students admitted without test scores… do about as well once they arrive as peers who did submit.” A student’s academic character is multifaceted, and test scores are only one side of the story. Going test-optional allows colleges and their prospective students to place greater emphasis on the other aspects of academics: grades, the rigor of your schedule, and letters of recommendation among other things. By creating a more personalized admissions process, test-optional policies grant students more grace in their application. In turn, colleges accept students who more closely fit the expectations and community of the university. So, we can see how going test-optional gets students into universities that better fit them.

Additionally, test-optional colleges foster greater diversity in their applicant pool, giving minority students more chances to break through a system that has traditionally held them back. As Dana Rolander, a certified education planner, stated in a US News article in August 2022, “Students from underrepresented groups with less privilege have had less access to test prep, so it hasn’t been considered an equal playing field for kids from all backgrounds.” In America, minority communities have consistently lower quality education than majority groups. As America evolved, activists have decreased the disparities, but they do still exist at an impactful level. 

For further specific evidence of these disparities, we can look to Brookings’ insights on SAT scores from 2020, “Over half (59%) of white and four-fifths of Asian test takers met the college readiness math benchmark, compared to less than a quarter of Black students and under a third of Hispanic or Latino students.” By going test-optional, colleges can grant prospective students a more equal academic footing despite a historical lack of opportunity. Overall, getting rid of required testing creates an equal environment for every young adult to succeed.

We as students need to support test-optional policies to spark necessary change in the college admissions process. Test-optional policies increase both a student’s fit at their college and equality among applicants. At the end of the day, we’re more than multiple-choice questions and arbitrary scores.