De-registering from the SAT is a serious mistake for students

Reports of the SAT’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Many parents and students – misled by “test-optional“Rhetoric off Admissions offices for bachelor courses — consider skipping standardized tests altogether. What started as a way to adapt to the advent of the coronavirus in 2020 and give students more flexibility has now caught on. But we should ask, at what cost?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s recent decision to reintroduce its testing mandate is a reminder that testing matters. It would be a grave mistake for most students to choose not to participate. In reality, whether mandatory or not, SAT and ACT continue to play an indispensable role in university admissions.

Admissions departments use “test optional” as a marketing tool to further their own interests as they purport to meet the needs of students and parents.

Several universities announced that students would qualify for it merit-based scholarships Without the submission of test results, the tests continue to appear to be particularly important for the allocation of aid.

One of my students earned 33 on her ACT and secured a full scholarship to one of the top 40 national research universities. After speaking to other students who had received similar scholarships, she learned that every one of them had submitted test scores. Despite the university’s official testing faculty policy, the students who submitted scores received the lion’s share of the funding. Another student of mine applied with a 22 ACT score to a large state school with an optional test and was offered a $24,000 scholarship. After increasing that score to 25 and sending the new results to his chosen college, his aid package was increased to $36,000.

These two examples are from the past year and represent the consistent trend for my student list on each score. Make no mistake: Test scores are still an important behind-the-scenes consideration when regulatory officials consider aid packages. As a result, the test is often skipped not in the best interests of a student.

Therefore, most college admissions departments are not really test-optional at all. As long as a preference or benefit can be determined by submitting test scores, students who choose not to do so are at a disadvantage. In order for these students to be competitive, they would need to have an equal opportunity to be admitted and receive scholarships regardless of whether they take exams. This simply does not apply to university admissions today and will not be the case this fall or next. Stressed and overscheduled families should resist the temptation to skip the test unless they are okay with the risk of missing opportunities.

One of the biggest hurdles to passing these tests is test anxiety. Many of my students have ADHD, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities and have internalized the notion that they are “bad test takers.” This difficulty can be compounded when students come from marginalized or disadvantaged backgrounds. Athletes in particular are often required to achieve certain test scores in order to attend their dream schools and play for those schools’ teams. So, for these students, do the SAT and ACT simply represent a kind of rite of defilement—a painful and antiquated rite of passage that should be discarded?

In contrast, standardized tests have real utility because they measure students’ ability to use the information at their disposal to solve problems quickly. This type of problem solving depends on emotional self-management. Students learn to be flexible rather than rigid and to prioritize the questions they can complete in the allotted time. You learn to break down complex problems into discrete, manageable parts. They also develop resilience by following a test prep course and enduring frustration. As for the specific material, the days of “SAT words” and arcane analogies are long gone. Today the tests stress Reading comprehension, English grammar and real-world mathematics such as statistics — practical skills that people use on a daily basis.

What if colleges were real test-optional? The utopian hypothesis is that college admissions would be more inclusive and accessible if the SAT and ACT were not involved. In reality, any well-intentioned attempt to end testing would deepen inequality. The elimination of standardized tests mainly benefits one group of students — those that receive a “legacy” approval. Furthermore, the optional testing experiment did not increase racial and ethnic diversity at universities. A Study 2021 of nearly 100 private colleges that have adopted the policy found that it resulted in only about a one percentage point change in the racial and ethnic makeup of admitted students. Despite colleges’ high-flying rhetoric about inclusivity and access, evidence shows that optional testing policies have almost no impact on achieving these goals.

Admissions departments use “test optional” as a marketing tool to further their own interests as they purport to meet the needs of students and parents. By not including test mandates, they open the floodgates for it large number of applicants, many of which have no real chance of being admitted. Colleges appear much more selective on paper. The test-optional hype has pushed up the number of applicants to the elite universities, although the number of places for students admitted has remained the same. Therefore, the percentage of approved applicants decreases, which decreases the acceptance rate. A a lower acceptance rate is interpreted as greater selectivitywhich can strengthen a college’s position Annual college rankings by US News & World Report. It’s a ridiculous charade: the quality of schooling remains the same, but it enjoys the prestige of a higher rank. Colleges and universities can then benefit from the test-optional trend in the short term, even if it harms the entire admissions process in the long term.

If we really care about making students successful, the answer isn’t to do away with standardized testing. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a tutor. If test scores are omitted from job applications, colleges are forced to rely on GPA as the only quantitative metric for the academic performance of the students. Students whose applications include grades provide admissions officers with a more complete picture of their skills and achievements. Finally, in the area of ​​personal growth, test takers also benefit from overcoming fears and mastering skills they never thought possible. De-registering from the SAT is a serious mistake for students

Caroline Bleakley

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