Test-optional universities leave some students relieved, others disappointed

Standardized testing has played a major role in a student’s journey to college for many years. However, now that the spring testing dates for the SAT and ACT have been canceled due to the coronavirus, dozens of colleges across the nation have announced their decisions to go test-optional for the Class of 2021.

According to a list by FairTest, the national center for fair and open testing, about 51 colleges have waived their requirements of the SAT/ACT for high school juniors applying in the fall, making the total number of test-optional schools in the nation over 700. 

The University of California system, the University of Southern California, Williams College, and Tufts University are among those who have removed this requirement for first-year applicants.

In addition, many Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania have waived their requirements for the SAT subject tests to make up for the decrease in testing dates. 

This change has been beneficial for many juniors, especially those who felt their test scores were not an accurate representation of themselves. For junior Ashley Moreno, having the option to not submit her test scores is a relief.

“I would say it puts me at an advantage since, personally, I’m not the greatest test taker and I feel like I have more to offer than just a test score,” Moreno said. 

Junior Sarah Lesmeister also said she sees the advantage in having the option to not submit her test scores.

“It would allow [me] to apply to exceptionally prestigious schools that would usually only accept very high scoring applicants,” Lesmeister said.

Although the recent announcement of schools going test-optional has been an advantage for many students, it has brought feelings of disappointment for those who finished their standardized testing earlier in the year.

“I completely understand why most colleges are going test-optional, with the current pandemic and whatnot, but I was definitely shocked and a little disappointed when I found out,” junior Emily Liang said. 

Liang, who has taken the SAT three times and the ACT once, feels that the time and money she spent studying for these tests have gone to waste.

“I could’ve used that time on extracurriculars or something else that would’ve helped my application,” Liang said. “I also feel like since now many students won’t submit test scores, there’s gonna be a lot more competition and I’m scared that I won’t get into certain colleges.”

For students whose test scores would have been the strongest part of their application, the change to a test-optional policy was not ideal.

Junior Ria Chockalingam was disappointed in the abrupt switch to a test-optional policy because she spent her “entire summer and fall retaking and studying for the SAT,” she said.

“Now it feels like it was all a waste,” Chockalingam said. “Thousands of kids who didn’t take [the SAT] or study for it have the same chance of getting into schools as people who intensely studied for it, maybe even a better chance.” 

Despite some schools not requiring the submission of standardized test scores, other students, such as junior Shannon Graney, who still plan on taking the test are worried whether or not they will get the opportunity to due to the coronavirus. 

“I would be really relieved if the College Board made an online SAT because I’m really stressed out that I won’t get the opportunity to take it before college apps depending on when corona ends,” Graney said.

Because not all schools across the country have removed their requirement for standardized testing, the College Board announced that it would add another testing date in September or create an online version of the SAT for students to take at home, if needed.

3 thoughts on “Test-optional universities leave some students relieved, others disappointed

  1. Austin Nguyen – Austin is a senior at San Marino High School who enjoys participating in his school's Chamber Choir and, occasionally, dance program. He loves listening to music and reading, and is obsessed with Netflix. Contact him at nguyenaustin3@gmail.com
    Austin Nguyen says:

    As a senior who’s about to graduate, it’s weird to see how making standardized testing optional has become a well-intentioned necessity that seems to have both positive and negative impacts on students. Thanks for sharing, Madelyn!

  2. Atussa Kian – I am a young, aspiring writer from Los Angeles! I love expressing myself creatively, whether it be through writing, film, clothing design, or photography. I am looking forward to publishing my own novels in the future.
    Atussa Kian says:

    thank you for writing this story! it was so interesting to read other’s and your perspective on this unprecedented situation. we’d love to see you continue to write insightful articles for HS Insider!- student advisory board member :)

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