Why Test Optional College Admissions Helps Students

  Although some schools were already test optional, the pandemic has forced most colleges to become test optional, mainly because of effects of the pandemic on students’ ability to actually take the tests. According to IvyWise, 72% of colleges moved to being test optional in 2020, and based on findings from FairTest, about 75% of colleges and universities will continue to follow this practice for the high school class of 2022. More than half have committed to being test optional for the next year as well. 

  This change has been, and will continue to be, very beneficial for students applying to college. While it is recommended that students send in their test scores if their test scores are average or above average for that school. This development relieves significant stress for students. 

  Many students would argue that their SAT and ACT scores are not reflective of their performance in school, and believe that GPA should count more than test scores. A study by Matthew Chingos, as reported by Forbes, looked at the correlation between graduation rates and GPA, and compared it to the correlation between graduation rates and SAT scores. The study found that “the relationship between high school GPA and graduation rates is by far the strongest,” as a change in GPA is going to affect the student’s graduation rate much more significantly than the SAT scores. This is most likely because GPA better reflects a strong work ethic and effort by students, while standardized test scores only show how well a student can cram for a single test. This ability to take a test is often not reflective of the student’s actual knowledge and work ethic because of the unrealistic nature of tests that often are not formatted around real-life knowledge.

  One of the biggest drawbacks to test optional college admissions is that the student’s application will be heavily scrutinized because they now need to replace this field with another strong point in their application. One example is a student’s GPA. This can be very helpful for students who perform well in the classroom and outside of school, yet struggle while taking tests. 

  The most important thing to remember about test optional admissions is that it contains the word optional, so each individual student can make the best choice for themselves and all have an opportunity to show how smart they are to colleges. Students are not limited by test optional admissions, they are actually given more freedom and choice to make their own decision. 

  However, there are long term consequences of schools being test optional: test scores will gradually increase as the majority of people submitting scores contain high ones. This change can only be fixed by eliminating the standardized tests from college admissions. By doing so, everyone is on an equal playing field, leading to no bias towards students without a test score. 

  When it comes to college admissions and standardized testing, schools should at the very least go test optional, but it would be best for students if colleges were to go completely test-blind. This would not only eliminate students’ stress, but also ensure that the student can include parts in their application that reflect themselves better.