There was a time when one of the most important things that students had to do in order to be eligible to just apply to college was take the SAT standardized test. It became the benchmark in the American education system. A number that ranked students in the country and acted like a key to colleges based on their scores. Even though the US is largely holistic, the numbers played an important part in the overall prestige of the college as well. According to the U.S. News Rankings 22.5% of the scores that a college is weighted on is Academic Reputation which is derived from the median SAT scores that students achieve. Soon the ACT crept in and challenged the SAT by providing a science section and engaging a students intellect in a differ and now almost favored way.
However, there is a rise in the number of test-optional schools in the country. There are a few reasons why this is gaining traction:
- George Washington University in 2015 chose to be test option because it wanted to increase the number of students who didn't score well but have great academic profiles to apply
- Wake Forest realized that standardized testing was reducing the number of minorities that were applying and chose to go test optional to increase overall diversity. Pitzer college said a similar thing. According to reports Pitzer’s diversity has gone up by 58% since the policy change.
- Other colleges such as Bates claim that standardized testing is taking away time from students to apply themselves in their school studies and extra curriculars which admissions couselors prioritize a lot more.
This policy helps colleges as well. If students choose to send their SAT scores, they only do so if they have done exceptionally well which increases the overall score median for the school thereby beefing up their academic reputation in the US News Rankings. Standardized tests are not for everyone. If they stress you or take a lot of your time, consider applying to the over 500 colleges that are test optional.