Examining the Exams Opinions

Students debate testing requirements in college admissions.

Optional standardized testing allows more students to enroll

By Joseph Valencia ’17
THE ROUNDUP

Standardized tests are supposed to act as a measurement of a student’s critical thinking skills, but scores don’t always accurately reflect true abilities.

Universities are beginning to see this problem, and some have made the submission standardized test scores, such as the SAT and ACT, optional.

For example, George Washington University’s administration recently decided that they are not factoring standardized test scores into student admission. GWU is considered a top tier school, as it is rated as the 54th best college in the nation, according to U.S. News.

GWU decision has been divisive thus far. Even so, the administration has provided legitimate reasons for their decision.

“We want outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds – regardless of their standardized scores – to recognize GW as a place where they can thrive,” said Dean of Admissions Karen Felton.

GWU isn’t the only college to make standardized testing optional.

“More than 125 private colleges and universities featured in U.S. News and World Report rankings now have test-optional admission policies,” according to Nick Anderson of the Washington Post.

Standardized tests are slowly being recognized as obsolete, a trend that can benefit the accessibility of college in the future.

Standardized test scores are valuable, but have become overly important to many colleges when selecting students during the admissions process.

Students are not their standardized test scores. More focus should be placed on the extracurricular activities and grade point averages of potential students.

Extracurricular activities and grade point averages are reflections of years of work, while standardized tests reflect a student’s abilities on one day. Moreover, students with greater financial means have the ability to attend expensive test prep courses, giving them an advantage over poorer students.

Universities putting too much focus on test scores is akin to looking at one tile in a large mosaic.

By making standardized testing optional, colleges such as GWU have opened their doors to many students with great potential who otherwise wouldn’t have been accepted solely based on standardized test scores.

Distinguished members of the College Board, the organization that creates the SAT test, have expressed their thoughts on the growing number of test-optional universities:

“We respect the decisions they make about their admissions processes and we will continue to listen to our members, evolve our programs, and work to expand access to opportunity for all students,” said Senior Vice President for Research at the College Board Jack Buckley.

The College Board is looking to adapt to the growing number of test-optional universities. Perhaps the upcoming new SAT will allow students to achieve better test scores.

Even so, making standardized tests optional is a choice that can be beneficial to the admissions process at many universities across the nation.

GW’s test decision goes a step in wrong direction

By Chase Manson ’16
THE ROUNDUP

Over the last few years, universities around the nation have slowly started to make sending test scores optional.

This summer George Washington University in Washington, D.C. has switched to submitting test scores as being optional.

While many would support this decision, this really is a step backward in college admissions.

Testing, while taxing and stressful, gives a deeper and clearer picture of an applicant.

Essentially, testing shows master knowledge and tests such as the ACT and SAT test logic and college readiness.

This is crucial in as college readiness factors into placement in universities as well as how as a prospective student fits in the community.

This information is imperative and can only be gathered through testing.

Another positive to submitting scores is that testing evens the playing field.

One class of AP Physics might be significantly easier with tons of extra credit opportunities than another section of AP Physics that maybe harder and have zero extra credit.

Tests such as the SAT are uniformed and if a test is particularly challenging, colleges know and adjust accordingly, putting applicants on an equal playing field.

Critics on the other hand will argue that bad test takers will benefit from the decision.

However, as a known bad test-taker, this decision harms me.

Colleges realize that there are bad test-takers and factor that into their decisions.

So making the test optional hurts a students application.

Even in a testing optional situation, submitting a test score makes someone even more competitive so the point of optional is lost.

In the end, testing being optional might alleviate some student stresses but in the long run really harms a student’s chances of getting in.

Testing offers a unique perspective for a student, something grades and essays can’t really give.

So while taking tests and submitting them is hectic, they shouldn’t be optional because they add a new dimension to your profile that is one step closer to an acceptance letter.