For many years, the SAT and ACT played a crucial role in the college application process. Juniors and seniors, who were already bombarded with difficult coursework and writing a multitude of college essays, had to study for hours for a standardized test that could potentially make or break their chances of getting into their dream school. However, when COVID-19 hit in 2020, this aspect of the college application process was changed. It is safe to say that it is a good change.
Due to the pandemic, over 700 colleges and universities are going test-optional, meaning that submitting a test score is unnecessary when applying. If college admissions continued to look at test scores, they wouldn’t be able to truly see the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. However, since making the switch to being test-optional, schools have begun to view applicants through holistic review. This process dives deeply into other components of an applicant, such as their extracurriculars, essays, experiences, and attributes. Holistic review is extremely beneficial for both students who are bad test takers and for colleges who truly want to get to know their applicants.
Apart from making the college admissions process holistic, going test-optional also makes the process more fair. Standardized tests can be extremely costly for some applicants. Costs of tutors, study tools, and the test itself can pile up, making it difficult for some students to have the same resources as others. A student with a tutor, numerous practice books, and multiple tries on the test will have a better chance of getting a higher score than a student who self-studies and can only afford to take the test once. By making the test optional, this barrier would be eliminated and students would no longer have to be put at a disadvantage for not being able to afford study material.
A single standardized test should not determine a student’s path to success. A single score should not outweigh a student’s extracurriculars, experiences, and essays. By going test-optional, colleges are able to see an applicant for who they truly are rather than just a number. It is evident that continuing on this route will be a win-win situation for both students and colleges.