Test optional policies: the pros

With more colleges adapting to circumstances caused by COVID-19, students can choose whether or not to send their scores.

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With more colleges adapting to circumstances caused by COVID-19, students can choose whether or not to send their scores.

The college admissions process is one of many parts of life that has changed in the age of COVID-19. Many colleges have opted to give the class of 2021 flexibility on sending standardized test scores, which have long been a large component in admissions decisions.

These new test-optional policies allow students to decide whether they want to send standardized test scores or not. To many, a positive aspect of test-optional policies is the reduced importance of standardized testing, which many students believe is not an accurate representation of college readiness in itself.

I’m personally not in favor of standardized tests being a measure of college readiness because these tests don’t accurately show how well a student would do once they enter college,” Jacinta Nwokeji (12) said. “It only evaluates how well a student could take the test, and it’s only a one-time performance.” 

Another positive aspect of the test-optional policy is how it accommodates students who are unable to take the exams due to the economic and health restraints of COVID-19. However, this may lead to more competition in the admissions process.

With the test-optional policy in place, economically disadvantaged students may have a chance of admission compared to some students who have the privilege of taking the ACT or SAT if the standardized test scores are truly eliminated from an individual’s competitiveness for admission,” Johnnie Walton (12) said.

Additionally, requirements for merit scholarships and aid, which have previously depended on standardized test scores for many colleges, have changed with test-optional policies. Now, more merit scholarships are distributed based on factors such as students’ GPA and extracurricular activities.

“This year, in some colleges, test-optional students will automatically be considered for academic/merit aid scholarships and also admission to their honors program,” Nwokeji said. “This would really benefit those who don’t have the resources necessary like adequate test prep to take the ACT/SAT.”

Like grades and extracurricular activities, test scores are only one part of a college application, and will not completely hinder your chances at a dream school. Many colleges have a holistic view of every student, meaning that many factors will comprise an admissions decision.

People associate high scores with intelligence, misinterpreting the results and putting way too much pressure to attain a certain score,” Zoe Wolfe (12) said. “Instead, [colleges] should consider the scores like an extracurricular or award, a great addition to your application but not a defining part of you or your application.”

In the end, students have the ability to decide for themselves whether or not they want to send their test scores to their colleges. 

I feel like not sending scores is like not putting an extracurricular on your application. It’s not going to hurt you, but you’re leaving out something that could help you,” Wolfe said.