In 2018, The University of Chicago became the first major university to go test optional. Since then, more than 700 colleges followed University of Chicago’s footsteps, and chose not to require test scores.
“I think it’s a good idea because standardized tests aren’t a good measure of every student’s intellectual capabilities,” said junior Annika Bjork. “You can tell more about a student than just one test from one day.”
Schools who vote for the test optional policy believe that standard test scores don’t accurately predict a student’s scores as well as the rigor of high school courses.
“I think to a certain extent, standardized testing is a good way to differentiate between students because different schools have different teachers,” said junior Joe Fahn. “Classes can be easier compared to other schools, so I think test scores can be helpful in predicting test scores.”
However, some schools require that candidates submit other proof of their academic achievement such as AP/IB test scores or portfolios as a demonstration of their work.
Prior to the University of Chicago’s choice to part from standardized tests, mostly small liberal arts schools were apart of the movement.
“I think more schools are doing this to get a more well rounded student body,” said Bjork. “Colleges want a diverse group of students so they can all learn from each other and benefit from different experiences and points of view.”
But research conducted by Insider Higher Ed reveals that University of Chicago’s decision made an impact. There has been a spike in minority applicants and enrollments (without decreasing the graduation rate).
One push for the movement against test scores can be attributed to the correlation between race, wealth, and standardized test scores. According to PBS, African American and Latino students typically score 70 to 80 percent lower than white students.
Students who live in poverty don’t have the same resources available in comparison to wealthier families. Other families can afford practice books and tutors, while some can’t afford to practice (or pay) for the test at all.
Amid the recent college admissions scandal, schools are moving toward evaluating student’s with a more holistic admissions approach. This means that schools are aiming to evaluate the student as a whole, and not by their grades.
“Admissions is moving in the right direction because there’s more to a student than grades,” said junior Steven Vivaldi.
Eliminating test scores may allow schools to take additional time in reading a candidate’s file rather than finding a quick way to weed out students.
“If you don’t submit your test scores, it will be harder for colleges to differentiate among students because so many students do similar things, and it only takes a test score to differentiate which student is more qualified,” said Fahn.
One study at Chicago State University showed that test scores only made up three percent of the differences between gpa, and that the students with the highest test scores did not necessarily excel in college.
A common worry among students is that schools will look down upon students who decide not to submit scores. However, it can have the opposite effect.
More competitive schools such as Wake Forest encourage students whose test scores may lie below the competitive range to not submit them. According to the Wake Forest’s admissions team, as long as the student itself is competitive, they will be accepted, no questions asked.
Other notable schools who have become test optional include Pitzer, Bryn Mawr, New York University and Bowdoin College.
Still, there is some reluctance among students among students to submit their scores as the term “test-optional” is very new.
“Right now I probably wouldn’t submit my scores to college because I need to improve my scores,” said Bjork. If I had tops score than I’d be inclined to submit them just to show how strong of an applicant I am.”
With a seemingly record breaking number of applicants each year, the UC system indicated interest in dropping test scores. Some UC leaders believe that the test discriminates socioeconomically and rids campuses of diversity.
As more colleges get rid of their test policies, new research and investigations about standardized testing has taken place to evaluate the importance and purpose of admitting “qualified” candidates.
“Schools ask too much of students,” said Vivaldi. “It’s wrong to discriminate against students who aren’t considered perfect students.”
In the wake of a new era, the college admissions process is set to change.