Coronavirus silver lining: colleges go test-optional


In light of the recent developments of the coronavirus pandemic, some universities and colleges have decided to change their policies and become test-optional institutions. While some of these schools have said that this change is only temporary, others have noted that there’s a strong possibility of remaining test-optional over the next few years. 

Currently, students are unable to take the ACT, SAT, or SAT subject tests because of the ongoing pandemic, preventing them from obtaining scores that most colleges usually require. Schools have been very flexible with new obstacles like this. By going test-optional or making sure that students know that the colleges understand COVID-19 has prevented many people from fulfilling projects or future activities, it relieves some stress that the pandemic has caused. 

The prospect of going test-optional has been popularized in recent years as more and more colleges and universities have waived the requirement. There are a variety of other, and better, ways to judge the potential of a student than one timed-test score. Students are more than the number out of 1600 that they get on the SAT. 

Those of us who aren’t necessarily good test takers, or who aren’t good at memorizing and pulling random information from the past three years in order to properly complete a math problem, don’t thrive in timed test situations. If colleges were to judge us based on the resulting score, it wouldn’t be a fair match. 

Not to say that that’s all students are judged on; college admissions has made it very clear that we need a well-rounded application with more than just our test scores, but said scores have always been a major area of many applications that require them. We grew up hearing about the dreaded SAT and that if we don’t do well we won’t go to a good college. Maybe if schools finally took the turn into being test-optional organizations, students wouldn’t feel so pressured to have perfect scores, when in reality they are so much more than a number.

There are a plethora of other ways to properly get a sense of who a student is and who they can grow to be. Whether it’s personal essays, portfolios, interviews, classes taken, extracurriculars, or clubs, students are multidimensional and have untapped potential that test scores most often overlook. 

Keep in mind, by going test-optional it doesn’t mean that students who thrive in a test environment and whose skills are relevant in areas that the tests highlight—math, science, reading comprehension, etc.—won’t be able to submit those scores. They will. It just means that for the students out there who feel like an SAT or ACT score doesn’t have any place in defining who they are, or who they can be, have the option to not submit those scores and focus their application on another strong suit of theirs. 

By providing the opportunity for students to truly create an applicatory persona that speaks to who they are and the potential they hold, colleges will, therefore, create a better college process for many high school students. 

Students are more than a test score, and once colleges and universities allow them to prove that by waiving a test score requirement, students will finally be able to focus on doing things they love rather than spending hours hunched over an SAT prep book.