Should colleges go “test optional” post pandemic?

College Board is responsible for the SAT and Advanced Placement tests administered to students.

College Board is responsible for the SAT and Advanced Placement tests administered to students.

Due to the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, many parents and students have become very cautious of their surroundings to protect their health. When colleges require a test that is only administered in-person, these students are put at more risk of being exposed to COVID-19. If all colleges adopted the test-optional policy, it would prove their consideration to the health and well-being of their future students.

Going forward, all colleges should allow students to apply with test-optional admission. Not only has this policy shown benefits for the students, but for the schools as well.

A study hosted by the National Association for College are Admission Counseling (NACAC) found that out of 23 test-optional colleges, 14 of them “achieved proportionately greater increases in enrollment of [underrepresented minority] students than their [test-required policy] Peers,” which means that 61% of test-optional schools were seen to be more sufficient to apply to for first generation students, Pell recipients (students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds,) and students who are part of ethnic or racial populations that are underrepresented in many colleges. The test-optional policy seems to create a more diverse environment in the colleges that allows for the admissions policy, and this diversity that is created helps make the college more attractive to potential students.

Instead of just doing one interview, I created an Instagram poll that allowed me to see more of my peers’ opinions on the subject. Out of all the votes, 83% of my peers voted for all colleges to go test-optional. Participants in this group ranged from the top of our class to those who struggle with testing to ones who aren’t in upper level classes and those whose education goals are below that of financial goals. This helps strengthen the reasoning that more students, the ones who are actually applying to these colleges, would rather have the option to apply test-optional.

On the other hand, many students believe that their SAT/ACT reflect their future success in college academic classes. However, this ideology has been proven wrong in the NACAC study. The study concluded that “high school GPA correlated more strongly than the SAT, with success in college, in terms of both college cumulative GPA and graduation rate.” It also suggested that the reason for students who see a solid correlation between their SAT scores and collegiate GPA is “most strongly correlat[ed] with family affluence.” A person’s success is not represented by a number when they get out of college, so why are they given the idea that one number will decide whether or not you succeed in college?

College should not be kept from a student because of their score on one test. It should be a representation of a student’s ability to go above and beyond what they ever believed they were capable of, and to teach them how to truly make it in the real world. No test score, or number, should be the reason this experience is taken from an individual. The test-optional policy shows benefits for all parties involved, which is the most valuable outcome for everyone.

The test-optional policy shows benefits for all parties involved,

— Leilani Beard