How important are standardized test scores in College Admissions?

By: Chime Norbu

Due to the recent pandemic many colleges and universities have decided to go ‘test optional’ for their applicants. What this means is that standardized tests such as SATs and ACTs aren’t required during the admissions process for their program. Currently this only applies to the applicants during the pandemic or those that are applying for admission for Fall 2023. This will most likely not be the case for highschool students applying for colleges for Fall 2024 and into the future. But should colleges’ really bring back these requirements for standardized tests? Do these exams really measure a students’ academic knowledge and skill? 

We went around the high school, Academy of American Studies, to find out what the students there thought of these standardized tests. First by finding seniors applying for colleges for the Fall of 2023 and asking them what they thought of the SATs being optional. Do they think the test is one good way to understand a prospective student’s skills? Do they think it should be reinstated for all students? What do they think admissions should be based on? 

Madjola Ymeraj, a graduating senior, top 20% in her grade throughout (according to Naviance), stated, “I feel like the SATs do not define me as a student and its’ dumb. I’m glad they made it optional this year because I didn’t really have time to prepare and got a pretty bad score.” She also stated, “There are many other things that a college can look at other than these test scores such as gpa, college essays, courses taken, rigors, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. I think they define me better as a student than some test score.”

Jigmey Dorjee, a junior attending one of the top highschools in New York at Bard High School Queens, stated, “I think colleges should just stop considering standardized testing as a whole as a determining factor in college admissions. I have many friends that are extremely smart and talented but are not good test takers.”

Mekahael Guzman, a classmate of Jigmey’s, followed up and stated, “Well there is nothing you can do about it besides pay a few thousand dollars for tutoring and just pray for the best.” These juniors didn’t seem too excited to take the SATs.

Over the past few years it has been reported by, that the mean score of the SATs ranges between 900 to 1200. This falls between the 50th percentile and l st percentile; meaning that half of the students that take this test perform average to poorly on this test.

Colleges have multiple factors when admitting students to their campus. These factors include the standardized test, personal essay, class rank, extracurriculars, gpa, etc.. So to find out which of these factors are actually important in college admissions we got in contact with the office at multiple decently selective colleges and asked their admission counselors what they thought the most factor they looked at a student when admitting them. According to many admission counselors, they care most about a student as a person and what they have to offer to the campus and the program they are applying to, rather than their academic excellence. A counselor from one university specifically stated, “While academic excellence is a factor in the admissions process, what we really want to see is commitment and what a student has to offer to our campus.”

Standardized tests such as the SATs tend to build a lot of stress and pressure among lots of students and many believe that it shouldn’t even be a factor in the college admission process. Many students that don’t have to worry about submitting their test scores for the Fall 2023 semester tend to be really relieved and happy. There are many factors that can be looked at during the admissions process. What do you think is the most important?


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