By Erin Grisham
NPR released a great piece about the value of SAT and ACT scores in college admissions. A recent study conducted over a span of 8 years, covering an impressive 123,000 students and 33 institutions, concluded that test-optional schools did not compromise academic quality. In fact, there were hardly any differences in GPAs and graduation rates between schools that required test scores and schools that did not.
About a quarter of all 4-year universities in the U.S. make it optional to send in standardized test scores and instead rely on other factors––high school GPA often being a major consideration.
Why then, are these tests considered the end-all-be-all of college acceptance? The SAT became popular as a way to be more inclusive of lower income students, but now it’s doing just the opposite.
To me, standardized tests do seem like rigid, unfeeling ways to gauge someone’s academic abilities. The added stress of doing well sends some students into a state of panic (which I’ve seen firsthand), undermining their ability to do well even if they know the material outside of the test-taking environment.
That’s not to say SAT/ACT scores are completely outdated. Test taking prepares students for college classes, many of which rely heavily on exams to make up the bulk of grades. Getting high test scores is certainly a valuable skill in itself, but should be measured in tandem with other talents.