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Reconsidering Standardized Testing

In the wake of coronavirus, colleges and universities across the US have reconsidered their testing policies - most have gone test-optional. So, what does this mean for students applying to college? Should students not take standardized tests at all? What are test scores used for anyway? Let’s talk about testing. 


Even prior to coronavirus, over a thousand colleges and universities were test optional, meaning you could or could not submit your test scores as part of your application. The pandemic closed down countless testing sites all across the country, and as a result, over 1660 colleges are now test optional for fall 2021. Not all of these schools plan to be test optional indefinitely, so underclassmen should continue to check this list and individual school policies. A small amount of those are test blind. (Explore the differences here). 


Recommendations for Students

You Should Still Attempt to Test If…

I’ll attempt to cut through any fluff and get right to the point. Colleges tell families and counselors that they are test optional for admissions; however, some state public schools have verbalized that a submitted test score may put the student into a higher scholarship range. So, for students that need every dollar in order to attend a four-year college, testing should not be viewed as optional. I advise students that if there is a testing facility open - and they feel comfortable with the testing environment - take the test.

Test Scores May Also Be Used for Entry into a Major

Public colleges may require a minimum test score for entrance into a college major. If you apply test optional, be sure to ask the college representative if you will need a test score for your major.  You may also run across a college that uses subscores for placement into math courses.


The Founding Purposes of Standardized Testing

Over its long history, standardized tests have served many purposes including “leveling the playing field” by making up for the differences in academic programs across the country. More recently, it’s become a tool for admission officers to predict the ability of applicants to perform academically during their first year. It’s not meant to be an intelligence test or a predictor of graduation. 


We Must Avoid Going Back to "Normal"

The conversation surrounding the role of standardized testing in college admissions has truly come into focus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. As the purpose behind these tests remains in flux, one thing seems to be certain: we cannot simply go “back to normal.” In order for colleges and universities to contribute to a healthy functioning society, standardized testing must adapt. 

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