Time for change: do colleges need standardized tests?

Standardized tests, like the SAT and ACT, are a poor indicator of intelligence and college readiness because they do not test a student’s entire competence; therefore it is unreasonable to students who tend to advance better in some areas than others. 

An argument against the SAT and ACT is that they do not accurately predict a student’s future success in college. Studies at the UChicago Consortium have shown that high school GPA is a much stronger predictor of college success than the SAT or ACT. These tests do not consider the full range of a student’s skills and abilities, such as creativity and leadership. By relying on these standardized tests, colleges may be missing out on valuable contributions from students who do not perform well on these tests.

Another factor that plays a role in this debate is the economic aspect. It is harder for lower-income families to purchase SAT prep courses or tutors in order to help their children properly prepare for these tests. According to Forbes, SAT and ACT unintentionally discriminate against low income families, which then creates a great disadvantage for lower-income families in regard to college admissions and acceptances.  

On top of all of this, these tests are a source of immense pressure and stress for high school students. Many students are told that their future college acceptance depends on their performance on these tests, which can lead to high levels of anxiety and stress. This pressure can cause students to feel overwhelmed and negatively affect their mental health. Additionally, the focus on these tests can lead students to neglect other important aspects of their education. 

Admittedly, some would argue that these tests shouldn’t be eliminated completely. School Assessment Coordinator, Evelyn Suarez acknowledges this counterargument. 

“I don’t agree that SAT/ACT scores should be the top priority for colleges; however, they shouldn’t be eliminated, Suarez said. “Instead do a well-rounded score, while considering GPA, extracurricular activities and community service.” 

Colleges should instead focus on a student’s high school GPA, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities, which provide a more understanding picture of their abilities and potential. The grade point average that someone works towards for their entire high school experience better reflects their work ethic and intelligence rather than how well they score on a singular test.