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College Admissions Go Test-Optional

by Matt Petronzio on June 29, 2011
Senior > English & Creative Writing > Fordham University
Image courtesy of uscollegesearch.org
Image courtesy of uscollegesearch.org

You hate tests. The pressure, the time limit, the body odor of the kid next to you—they all affect how well you do. Take-home tests seem easier because you’re able to work at your own pace and really focus on the questions. Standardized tests like the SAT have the almighty reputation of making or breaking your college application process, and the anxiety alone can cause your score to drop. That’s why quite a few colleges are making a change.

Hundreds of universities in the U.S. have adopted a “test-optional” admissions process, meaning that prospective students can apply to these schools without including their SAT or ACT scores. This seems to be the beginning of an ongoing change in college criteria, making grades more important than test scores. For a while now, experts have questioned if standardized testing truly exhibits a student’s college preparedness.

Salisbury University in Maryland conducted a five-year trial of test-optional admissions, starting with the class entering in 2007. Now, in 2011, the university has made it official. Students with a GPA of 3.5 or over don’t have to submit test scores.

Many top-tier schools have followed suit, like the New School in New York, Smith College in Massachusetts, Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and American University in Washington, DC.

Another option some schools are now providing is “test-flexibility.” This means that test scores are still required, but students can choose which ones to provide, such as AP or SAT II scores.

This shift seems like it’s been a long time coming. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: you work tirelessly to get a good GPA in high school, focusing on individual grades for each of your classes, and yet one test claims to be the be-all and end-all? It’s counterintuitive.

What do you think?

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