This year’s college admission scandal resulted in parents being accused of bribing test administrators to change test scores or allow cheating. This has resulted in some colleges re-thinking their position on the use of standardized testing in the admissions process.
Some parents have been accused of bribing school officials and in other cases students either didn’t take the test themselves or were given the answers prior to the exam.
Critics of standardized testing are using this scandal to encourage colleges to stop using the tests as a part of the consideration for acceptance to colleges.
The ACT and SAT are facing their greatest challenge ever.
One in four institutions currently no longer require the tests for admission. Some colleges claim they have lost their value because of the scandal.
Forty-one schools have made the tests optional in the past year. There are approximately 1000 colleges that have now gone test optional.
Some believe it will level the playing field for all students who apply.
Their research suggests there is an increase in diversity of the applicant pool and say there is strong evidence to suggest the number of applicants increase without the testing requirement.
A recent study at Georgetown University found that if SAT and ACT scores were the only basis for admission, more than half of students who were accepted would not have made it.
The College Board, which administers the SAT are against the test-optional admission plan. The Board and ACT say standardized testing is still the best way to predict a student’s success in college.
Proponents of the test optional plan say the goal is to increase diversity because lower-income students typically have lower scores. They believe that families with money can afford tutors to help with test preparations.
Others suggest the test scores aren’t an accurate representation of a student’s aptitude and that it puts too much focus on obtaining a high score. They also believe the results don’t predict the future success of students.
Colleges who are opposed to eliminating the tests say the scores are a helpful tool and are only one piece of information used to determine academic potential.
All this test optional variation will probably sound great to students who don’t test well under the best of circumstances. But while it sounds like the perfect solution to students who see the tests as a stumbling block to the college admission process, there are hidden ramifications for going that route.
As usual, things are not always as advertised.
Not submitting standardized testing may put students at a disadvantage for merit-based scholarships. Even though some of the schools who have gone test optional say students will still be considered, the reality is colleges have a financial incentive to accept students without financial needs.
Intercollegiate athletics must go through the NCAA Clearinghouse and they require testing scores for student athletes. Athletes must meet required test scores to compete. That means those who don’t test don’t play.
Colleges still use the test scores for course placement. Without those numbers, students could be placed in classes they are not prepared for. It could also benefit the student because some classes can be waived if scores are within a certain range.
Taking the tests can also improve a student’s collegiate options as other schools have access to the scores and will contact students to offer them an opportunity to attend the school.
If a student has a lower GPA the test score offers them an opportunity to show the college or university how he/she has improved academically. It also gives the student a way to show how they can perform under pressure.
One school in Massachusetts posted on their website that they will not consider SAT/ACT scores regardless of the score. They say test scores do not weigh into their assessment of an applicant.
But that is only one school making that claim.
College admissions is a competitive business.
Yes, there has been a misuse of the process but that is a problem for the institutions to resolve.
Suggesting that students need special concessions because of family income or race is offensive. Simply applying one set of standards for all applicants instead of special treatment for a few should resolve the issue.
Students should take the time and take the tests that have proved to be beneficial for years. The benefits to the student could make a huge difference in their future.
Going test optional sounds like an easy fix but those kinds of choices aren’t always the best ones.