BHSS seniors see pros and cons to the SAT/ACT optional movement

Ethan Uhls, Staff Writer

High school juniors received news that was a bright spot during a time of global crisis: nearly all major universities are now administering a test-optional policy for the 2021 admissions cycle. Roughly 53% of all bachelor degree granting schools are administering a test optional policy, not required SAT/ACT scores for admission. 

Now, with the admissions process being test optional, new options are presented to South students. Do you apply with or without your SAT or ACT scores? 

Senior Meredith Waymire applied to her top schools: Indiana and Butler University using her ACT score and shared her perspective on her reasoning behind this decision. “I put the time and effort in to study and prepare for the test, so I felt that it should be included.” Despite applying with her scores, she feels that universities being test optional is more equitable for students who were denied the opportunity to take standardized tests due to Covid-19. 

Many students have included their scores to make their application stand out for the colleges they are applying to and some have chosen to apply without, bringing emphasis to other parts of their application. 

Senior Olivia Richardson broke down her decision making process when applying to her schools. “I applied with my SAT scores to my in-state school that had median SAT scores in that range. For the out-of-state schools, I didn’t want my SAT scores to keep me from being accepted to these schools.” Richardson’s strategy is the perfect way to navigate this new policy. Students now have the ability to apply with their scores where it feels beneficial, and without where they feel the entirety of their application should be emphasized more. Some feel like applying without is advantageous at more selective universities where all applicants have top tier scores.

Senior Dylan Cordell found this new option to play out in his favor. “The cancelation of multiple SATs over many months caused me to have little time to take the test before the early application process.” Cordell agreed that universities being test optional provided a much more fair opportunity for students who missed the opportunity to take standardized tests, but also those who lack the resources to effectively prepare. “Standardized testing gives advantages to students who have more resources to prepare for the tests.”

This was a common sentiment expressed by those interviewed. “I believe that testing is completely income-biased due to the prices of the test fee and the expense of prep courses as well as other resources used to prepare,” said Olivia Richardson. 

The rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused many to feel very uncertain with how the 2021 admissions cycle would play out. Colleges were already trending towards going to test optional admissions, and the coronavirus pandemic only expedited the process. 

The reasoning prior to Covid-19 of moving to a test optional policy was to make admissions more equitable for those in lower income areas, and we have now moved towards a more level playing field when it comes to college admissions. “It allows colleges to see other aspects of the students aside from their scores,” said Richardson.