It’s time for colleges to become test optional


Photo courtesy of The Application Authority

Baraka Aboul-Magd

When the SAT was introduced in 1926, it was a way for colleges to test their applicant’s knowledge and see how prepared they were for the future. But as colleges have become more competitive, they have been relying more on the SAT/ACT to determine if an applicant should be considered for the school. But how can one test dictate whether or not a student is ready for college? Colleges should prefer evaluating a person’s grades and accomplishments, not just one score.

We are all so much more than one number; throughout our entire high school career, we have been showing our talents inside and out the classroom. Colleges should become test-optional because it gives students the chance to submit something showcasing their true talents and knowledge. Not everyone is great at taking tests, and while some people spend years preparing for the tests, others are creating artwork, videos, engaging in rigorous sports, and dedicating their time to clubs they might lead or have organized.

Colleges should look at each student as an individual and evaluate them based on what they choose to submit. If a student does well on the SAT or ACT, they should submit it. But those who don’t? They should be able to submit a hard worked art or film/photography portfolio, something that represents their skills and hard work just as a near perfect SAT score does for a different student.  

Taking the SAT or ACT requires classes, help, and most importantly money, which is not always available to all students. The SAT registration fee is $47.50, and SAT tutoring starts at $70. The SAT and ACT are only really accessible to the middle and upper classes, leaving lower-income students and families at a big disadvantage.

When colleges become test-optional, they give students from a range of incomes a better chance of being admitted. It not only gives applicants a chance to show their individual strengths but gives them more opportunities to showcase their true intellect and perseverance. As a student who performs poorly on standardized tests, test-optional colleges make it possible for me to apply to more schools because I can submit a creative work instead of an ACT score. This better represents me as a student because it reflects my strengths and shows who I am as a person and my hard work besides a number. (add something about how this better represents you as a student etc.)

Making schools test-optional is also a huge step towards helping those with learning disabilities. Although testing accommodations are often available, they are far from sufficient and leave these students at an even larger disadvantage in the college admissions process.

The SAT and ACT are just a few hours of bubbling in letters, they don’t represent all of our strengths and weaknesses as a student. Students with enough money, prep, and knowledge are able to do well and look like a perfect student to the colleges they apply to, but others who can’t afford it and don’t do well on standardized tests immediately have a lower chance at getting in.

The University of Chicago, among many colleges, has become test-optional because they “wanted to really take a look at all our requirements and make sure they were fair to every group,” according to their admissions team. They strive to give everyone an equal chance at admission because they understand that not every student has the opportunity to take the SAT or ACT and do well. Despite their eight percent acceptance rate, they acknowledge that their students are more than the test score.

Colleges should become test-optional because removes the pressure of needing a perfect score. Instead, it expands the variety of applications because all types of students can submit an application that showcases the best parts of who they are.