Colleges face pressure over importance of the SAT/ACT


Gabriela Danger, Writer

Talking to somebody who went to high school in the 80s or 90s about standardized testing might provide for a very interesting conversation. When I asked my father about his experience with it, he told me there were no tutors, no courses, no study books to help boost your score. You would just walk in and take it.

Nowadays, more recent students face a much more difficult experience with these tests. Many spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on tutors in an attempt to raise their score on these exams. I personally am one of these students, because so many of us do it that it would leave me at a disadvantage if I did not.

However, the added workload these classes can put upon the already burdensome schedule of a junior or senior is, to put it lightly, stress inducing. On top of that, the rising competition and expectations of colleges does not help ease any worries.

Recently, however, colleges, politicians, and parents have been begun to stray from these standardized tests, as they realize they may not be the best measure in determining a students merit after so many years of education. One in four colleges actually does not require an SAT or ACT score for admission, and because of COVID, even more have begun to drop it.

My own opinion aside, I asked a few ILS juniors and seniors about their thoughts on this topic. Junior Mia Castellon told me she would be willing to apply to or attend a test optional school, because it would “give [her] time to work on extracurricular activities that could make [her] application stand out as opposed to spending hours a week preparing for a test.”

Nevertheless, it is true that standardized testing does, for lack of a better word, provide a “standard” for colleges to go on while evaluating students. This is not necessarily a bad thing that needs to be completely removed from the college applications process, but perhaps placing less weight on it could prove beneficial for students.

To junior Katrina Diaz-Balart, this style could be perfect for her, since she was planning on “taking the test anyway”, although concedes that “it would make the application process less stressful,” if less importance was placed on the tests.

Senior Isabella Juara told me that many of the schools she’s applied to are test optional (because of covid for the class of 2021). However, she agrees that colleges “should give a more holistic approach to a student’s college applications..” in order to examine the other aspects of a student’s  life, like sports, grades, and service.

After all, schools tell us balancing our studies with extracurriculars, service, social life, family life, and mental health is what colleges want to see. Placing less weight on the SAT and ACT might give us students the chance to show that part of our resumes off.

All in all, it seems the world is becoming more sold on the idea of placing less importance on the score of standardized tests. It seems like slowly, but surely, it will happen. This change of heart can be attributed to a few gutsy students and politicians, and the fact that COVID shut down many testing centers, bringing the question into the limelight again.