All colleges should have admissions policies for optional tests
I am an example of a student who took the optional testing route when applying to college, and that opened many doors for me.
No matter how hard I worked, I was never a good test taker. For other types of tasks, such as B. essays, but I did better. When it came time to apply to college, I only applied to schools that did not require an SAT or ACT. Now I’m at Trinity College in Hartford, pursuing my lifelong dream of preparing to be a teacher. The optional test route has allowed me to be where I am today. Therefore, I believe that all colleges and universities should offer admissions with an optional test.
There are several reasons why it is more inclusive for colleges to have test-optional admissions. First, research shows that standardized tests do not accurately measure one’s intelligence. Second, exam registration and preparation are expensive and therefore benefit affluent students. Finally, research shows that there are ways, other than tests, that students can use to show what they know.
Although standardized tests are widely used to assess student intelligence, they may not adequately assess student potential. Instead, research shows there are racial disparities in SAT scores, suggesting the test disadvantages black and Latinx students. A complaint against the University of California alleges the use of the test is unfair because the test appears to confer benefits on Asian American and white students. Statistics from the College Board, which administers the SAT, show that 55 percent of Asian American test-takers and 45 percent of White test-takers scored at least 1,200 on the SAT in 2019. For Hispanic and Black students, those numbers were 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
The patterns in the data illustrate that Hispanic and Black students are disadvantaged and falsely suggest that other groups that have the upper hand are “smarter,” when in reality we are all the same. Scores reflect whether we have the resources or opportunities to understand how to score high on SAT and ACTs. They measure the use of testing strategies that we need to learn; The only way to do this is through expensive training, which not everyone has the opportunity and means to do.
Affluent or privileged high schools are more likely to offer SAT and ACT preparation. These students are also more likely to afford quality test preparation, such as learning that the reading and science sections of the SAT and ACT are all about strategy. For example, when I took an SAT prep course, I was taught to scan only the first sentence and last sentence of the section I read and that understanding what I read was not important. Preparation and expert advice are essential to doing well on the SAT. However, such preparation is accessible only to wealthy students. Online courses range from $100 to $2800, while private sessions range from $1,600 to $8,000.
After all, students have different strengths. Everyone on earth is unique, just as everyone has unique talents. For some it is music, sports or theatre. The standardized exam results are just a snapshot of their knowledge. Research shows that GPA, or other grades obtained in school, is a better indicator of college success than standardized tests. GPAs are a collection of “efforts over a long period of time in different types of classes that require different types of academic ability and expectations”. Additionally, teachers who have known students for years have a better understanding of the student’s potential and what is going on in their life. Therefore, rather than relying on the standardized test, colleges should base their admissions decisions on student GPAs and recommendations from their teachers.
Getting institutions to implement policies for optional testing helps many students. We all deserve a chance in college. I knew I wanted to teach since I was five years old. It was the optional admission policies that allowed me to pursue this passion.
Sonia Lau is a sophomore at Trinity College, Hong Kong, majoring in Education with a possible concentration in Special Education and Psychology.
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