As students from across the country prepare to take the SAT this Saturday, some colleges are reconsidering its traditional level of importance in the application process. In fact, a few universities, local and national alike, no longer require applicants to submit or take the SATs or ACTs with their application.
Recently, Indiana State University in Terre Haute became the first college in Indiana to do away with the traditional standardized test requirement. ISU follows in the path of prominent schools like Wake Forest University, the first prestigious college to stop making test scores a requirement for potential students. In fact, according to an article from the New York Times, Wake Forest and other schools have adopted admissions programs that eliminate or reduce the emphasis on students’ standardized test scores.
For years tests like the SAT have been the main factor in decisions that colleges and universities across the country make about their potential students, but it’s a good idea to challenge the norm. More colleges should follow in ISU and Wake Forest’s footsteps and consider decreasing the value placed on SAT or ACT scores. It is often used as one of the only accurate ways to compare very different students to each other. Grading scales differ across schools, and this was seen as the one measurement that was equivalent for every student taking the test.
Making it optional for students to take the SAT has many benefits. Some students are simply bad test takers, and no matter how much they study or how many diligent notes they take, they are bound to receive a low score on tests. And it is inevitable that stress accompanies the college admission process. As standardized tests are often the first step in the college process, this increases stress levels in test takers. While the student may have a high GPA and be a dream applicant for many universities, stress relating to college may cause lower scores on the tests.
Additionally, the negative aspects of the SAT and similar standardized tests seem to outweigh, or at least challenge, the benefits of the tests. It does cost money to take the tests, which is a limited resource to some. Because it is possible to “super score,” or take the highest scores received in the SAT section, as your final score; this gives an unfair advantage to students that are able to take the test multiple times.
Some future college students simply cannot afford to take the SAT on multiple occasions, especially with the growing cost of a further education. While it should reflect and judge the academic ability of the test taker, monetary funds often determine the chances students have to raise their scores.
Not all standardized tests are useless; some serve their purpose quite well. AP and IB exams should be taken, even with their cost. Because students work hard in high school, they should be able to receive the college credit hours they have earned. This is a fair trade-off for students. In February 2010, Indiana’s House of Representatives passed House Bill 1135, which makes it necessary for all public colleges to give students credit hours for scores of 3 or higher received on AP tests. This is required unless the class is required for that student’s major. Because of credit received from AP testing, it is not unheard of for college to be cut down by a semester, as some mandatory classes are cut out of the schedule. Ultimately, this saves students money.
Tests the state regulates, like the ISTEP+, a requirement for all students until they reach sophomore year, also serve a purpose. This test allows for the state to see what school districts or students are falling behind in school. As it is made clear which students need extra help or have problems grasping concepts that should be possible for them to achieve, they can be helped.
At this school, standardized tests are considered beneficial. However, the administration cannot disregard the importance of these tests. To say that students should stop taking the SAT would be irresponsible, as it is still a necessary step to reserve a spot in most universities. It is the responsibility of CHS and high schools across the country, and recently the world, to provide education to students and to make an outstanding standardized test score a possibility.
To more accurately judge the potential of each student during the admissions process, colleges should follow in Wake Forest University and ISU’s footsteps and make standardized tests optional. The value on one test is not a fair representation of complete academic potential, and therefore it should be of less importance. Colleges should realize that there are better ways to admit students, and the focus should be on the grades and extracurricular activities in students’ control.