Should SAT and ACT Tests be Test Optional Forever?

For many generations of students, taking the SAT or ACT was considered vital to apply to most colleges and universities. However for the class of 2021, accompanied by a multitude of other changes, testing mandates are rapidly disappearing as the Coronavirus wreaks havoc on scheduled exams. This unforeseen shift, combined with the skepticism of the recent tests being cancelled, should be seen as eye-opening for college admissions. An enormous “test optional” experiment is currently underway and I don’t think it should ever cease to exist.

It is now possible for high school seniors to apply to hundreds of schools, including Harvard, without a test score. Many April SAT/ACT because of cancellations due to the pandemic. There is still a chance for seniors to take these tests in the fall or winter, but conveniently there is a fallback now. This makes many students, including myself, feel reassured. Many high school students have probably heard at least of their peers say “standardized tests aren’t an accurate representation of a student’s character.” Some students aren’t good test takers, some students get anxiety because of big tests and some students just have bad days. Standardized tests don’t show your work ethic or consistency in GPA and other factors of admissions do. 

Naturally, colleges and universities have long insisted that test scores are less important than many students believe. They say that course rigor and high school grades are far more important. While this may be true, students still have it ingrained in their minds that a strong score means more of a chance for admission when it comes to competitive schools. Scores shape where students apply. Often scores can range, however, as a result of affordability for tutors or the power to retake a test multiple times. 

We are living in a whole new world. If colleges can execute “test optional” now, they can do it forever. Above all, it gives students the opportunity to highlight their strength on their applications instead of on occasion putting a poor test score in.