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Despite recent trends, testing still a big part of college admissions

By Anthony Cardellini ’17 & Cameron M. Bray ’16

George Washington University, a school of about 25,000 students located in Washington D.C., announced July 27 that it had dropped its testing requirements for freshman admissions.

High school applications can still submit SAT or ACT scores if they want, but it’s not a mandatory qualification for admission.

With this move, GWU is joining the ranks of more than 125 private colleges and universities featured in U.S. News and World Report that have test-optional policies.

Now some students and teachers are questioning what the future of SATs and ACTs holds, since more and more prominent universities like GWU are dropping their testing requirements.

Ms. Katie Cardinali, the head of the counseling department, said that it’s unlikely that testing requirements will disappear altogether.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily the future of standardized testing,” she said. “I don’t think that anytime soon we’re going to see colleges and universities completely abandon testing as a requirement.”

When asked whether or not the move was a good one, Ms. Cardinali said it had both pros and cons.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “A test-optional policy allows more students to feel that a university is accessible to them, even if their transcripts and their test scores don’t match up.”

Mr. Gil Martinez, another counselor who was an undergraduate admissions officer at the University of Notre Dame for 17 years, said that while standardized test scores are important, they should not serve as the focal point of an application.

“The weight should always be on the rigor of curriculum and your grades,” he said. “Testing, even though it’s a factor, is not the critical factor in the selection of students.”

He added that, while more schools may follow GWU in dropping standardized testing requirements, the most highly selective schools likely won’t.

“I think more schools will follow, although I’m skeptical if the very top-tier schools follow,” Mr. Martinez said. “For them, that test score component of their ranking is very important if they want to keep that high ranking.”

Besides counselors, students also have mixed feelings about schools dropping their testing requirements.

Senior Quinn Marchicelli ’16 said that he thinks the argument on whether or not test scores should be optional is very two-sided.

“I think [what GWU did] is good because some students don’t have good test-taking skills, but you could also argue that those skills are important in college.”

He said he didn’t worry too much about studying for the SAT, but that a student who felt like he didn’t understand the information should study.

When asked if he’d like other schools to follow in GWU’s footsteps, Marchicelli said, “It depends on the college.”

He added that a school should require testing based on how much testing students would be required to do in that specific college.


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