Photo Illustration by Alex Gross ’24
By John Wichterman ’23
As the COVID-19 pandemic created conflicts for students to take the ACT and SAT, many universities gave students the freedom of choice: whether to submit or not submit standardized testing scores.
Even before the pandemic, there were movements to remove the tests due to the association with higher income levels and higher test scores since more tutoring could be used by students with access to more resources.
Now, COVID cases continue to decrease steadily, meaning that there are little to no impediments for students to have test sites available to them, but a large sum of universities are keeping the same policy of having a test-optional college application.
This policy means that students who would normally be below the average SAT or ACT score for a college simply do not have to submit their scores, keeping their application competitive with students who scored higher.
“I think the fallout from that has been that the [50th percentile] has gone up because the guys with the good numbers are sending their scores,” said College Counseling Department Chair Ms. Megan Erdely.
This has certainly been an unintended consequence, and Ms. Erdely said that schools that would have a 28-31 ACT range now are sitting at the 31-33 range.
Some universities think that having the test-optional system in place allows for them to prioritize other parts of a student’s application that would have been looked over otherwise.
“I actually talked to the dean of admissions at [ASU] Barrett and they said that they have liked not having the scores in because they can kind of do a deeper dive and they feel like they are getting more collectic students,” Ms. Erdely said.
One college that is requiring test scores is the University of Georgia. Georgia, however, did not make the decision independently. The Board of Regents, which is the governing body of the University System of Georgia, set the requirements for applications for each school in the USG.
“While Test scores are a requirement, that is only a small part of our review process for applications.” said UGA Admissions Recruiter Mr. Austin Knox Todd. “We care far more about what a student did in and outside the classroom for their four years of high school than 4 hours on a Saturday.”
On the other hand, the University of California schools are in litigation about parting ways with the ACT and SAT tests and instead want to create their own test.
No matter what trajectory schools decide to push the tests towards, there will always be factors that are subject to change.
Ms. Erdely said that no matter what the case is, “always check every single college because you might send it for one but you don’t send it for the other” and talk to your counselor if you are unsure.