Debates Over College Admissions Testing

The SAT and ACT are two of the most known standardized tests and are determining factors in the college admissions process. They measure a student’s readiness for college, and the higher a score, the higher the chance of getting accepted to most colleges. To achieve these high scores, many high school students devote countless hours to studying and preparing for the tests.

However, a significant change has happened regarding these tests: colleges are waiving test scores. Two years ago, in May, University of California regents voted to waive test scores for now and eradicate them by 2025. The California State University panel also supported the change, with administrators saying they will eventually eliminate standardized tests as admission requirements. Even private California schools such as USC and Stanford do not require test scores for the next couple of school years.

The pandemic was the final push leading to the suspension of these tests. However, others have seen this coming due to multiple faults with standardized testing. Among these faults includes the argument that standardized tests don’t measure progress. Students aren’t retested to see if they learned about the things they tested poorly on. Instead, states compare scores of students in the same grade, both from the previous and current year. This does nothing to show the progress of individual students.

Many argue that the SAT and ACT only measure the students who are the best at taking tests. Some students may be more comfortable in a classroom environment, but when it comes to test-taking, different outside factors can contribute to a lower score. Hence, standardized tests aren’t a good factor in measuring students’ knowledge; they only show the students who are the best at preparing for tests.

However, many believe these colleges made the wrong decision in waiving standardized tests scores. The most prominent argument was that standardized test scores are the best indicator of how successful students will be in college. If standardized tests are taken away as a requirement, colleges will rely more on grades to determine a student’s college readiness. Yet, with the inflation of grades in numerous high schools, as well as other factors such as teacher bias, grades alone are not a reliable factor to base college readiness.

Some argue that standardized tests are objective measures because they have similar questions, are administered under the same conditions, and are graded by a machine. They aim to test what a student already knows and, when combined with a student’s grades, more accurately predict their college readiness.

Although the pandemic was the factor that pushed colleges to waive test scores, many argue that this was a long time coming. While high school students breathed a sigh of relief when this was announced, critics thought colleges were making the wrong decision. Even so, colleges that have decided to suspend and eliminate SAT and ACT scores will be unlikely to change their minds.