The Student News Site of Cranford High School

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The Student News Site of Cranford High School

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The Student News Site of Cranford High School

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Standardized Test Scores Are Making a Comeback. But How Much Has Really Changed?

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have been free to choose whether or not they would submit test scores when applying to colleges. Although the test-optional experiment began years prior to the pandemic, it was accelerated on a larger scale in 2020. Now, four years later, schools such as Yale University and Dartmouth College are returning to mandatory standardized testing–requiring applicants to  submit an ACT or SAT score. They could be leading the way for other universities to reinstitute the practice, creating consequences for upcoming applicants. 

Test-optional applications were initially instituted to increase the diversity of accepted students, and they may in turn place more weight on an applicant’s essays and extracurriculars which  can better reveal their character than any test. Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down testing sites, it seemed that college admissions would permanently accept test-optional applications — but schools are now increasingly retracting this policy, most likely because, without standardized testing, college admissions may have a more difficult time assessing a student’s academic abilities. GPA and grades are good indicators, but the systems vary from school to school and state to state. Standardized tests, on the other hand, are uniform assessments of all applicants, making it easier for colleges to select candidates. 

Bringing back standardized testing is clearly beneficial to colleges, but the consequences for students may be more complicated. For the past few years, some students may have had the expectation that they would not have to worry about this piece of the admissions process, leaving them unprepared for the rigorous tests that often require weeks of preparation. Additionally, testing mandates may limit the opportunities for those who do not test well or whose strengths lie in their essays or extracurriculars. 

While students may feel cheated or upset that another academic assessment will be a factor in their applications, it is possible that college admissions are bringing testing back to bring clarity to academic assessments, not to implement something that was not there before. The reality is that academics is a critical part of college admissions, especially for top schools such as Yale University and Dartmouth College. For test-optional schools, it is likely that other measures of academics that are similarly uniform across the nation, such as AP tests, held more weight.

However, the reinstitution of standardized testing brings up questions surrounding other changes to college applications.Will other facets of testing like superscoring be revoked next? Additionally, as the tests themselves evolve to fit the times, as evidenced by the digitization of the SAT, should college admissions do the same and stay test-optional? The situation invokes the question of whether mandatory standardized testing is a necessary tool or an outdated practice that reveals the resistance of colleges to accept cultural evolution. 

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