Changes in College Applications-A Move Towards Test Optional


Daphne Adum, Staff Writer

The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) has been in place since 1926 and has been used to assess a student’s ability to learn and their readiness for college. Similarly, the ACT (American College Test) was developed as a competitor to the SAT and would, in contrast, test a students knowledge that they acquired in school. However, over 1,000 schools in the United States are now considered a test-optional policy.  

Test optional is a term meaning that an SAT/ACT score is not necessary in order to be considered and accepted into a college. Senior Ava Kevorkian said, “I don’t think that test scores are an accurate depiction of ones academic abilities so I think it’s a good thing that schools are going test optional”. Schools such as the University of Chicago, Wake Forest University, Bowdoin College, Bucknell University, Pitzer College, and Brandeis University have adopted this policy. 

However, there are three other test-optional policies that a school may have. The first is test flexible, meaning that a student can submit scores from different tests in place of a SAT/ACT score. Some of these tests include the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement exam scores. Schools such as NYU, Middlebury College, Drexel University, and University of Rochester now follow this policy. Secondly, there are test blind schools, meaning that a school does not look at an applicants SAT/ACT scores during their admissions process. There is only one school that has adopted this policy, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Finally, there are class rank/GPA substitution schools which do not require a student to submit their SAT/ACT scores as long as they meet their school’s minimum class rank or GPA. UT Austin, Texas A&M, and Washington State University have this policy.

The main reason that so many schools have decided to change to test-optional policies is that some view the use of SAT/ACT scores as a requirement in the university system as discriminatory to racial minorities and students from low-income families. Senior Vale Bonomie, who is in favor of test-optional policies, said, “I think it’s a great idea since it’s been proven that the SAT isn’t a fair assessment of a students academic abilities and it still lets students who perform well on the exam showcase that if they want to.”

The test optional policy has been disputed because of the claim that a student’s chance of being accepted into a test-optional school might be negatively impacted if they do not provide a SAT/ACT score. Although, according to US News, Dean of Admissions for Bowdoin College in Maine, Whitney Soule said that a student should choose to submit their score only if it supports their “overall context” as a student. However, she added, “if they feel that the testing detracts from that, then they should withhold it — and they should withhold it with confidence that we’re not looking for it”. 

Test-optional policies are being further looked into and are an important factor in the changes in college administration.