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Make It or Break It; Are Standardized Tests Weighted Too much?

A milestone for every incoming college freshman is to submit a strong ACT/SAT score to their application. In the past, it has been one of the most important academic days of one’s life. Some students would prepare for weeks leading up to exam day, with dreams of earning a high enough score to earn some sort of scholarship at their dream school. However, test scores have always been controversial. While some students were not as interested in the idea of having a singular test to make or break their chances of getting into college, others have had no aspirations of even attending college, therefore finding taking the exam(s) completely pointless.

In recent years, colleges and universities across the country have begun to relax their reliance on ACT/SAT scores as means of determining if a student is fit to be a student on their campus. This “test-optional” era of college admissions really took off in 2020 as a result of the pandemic; which is when SAU made the switch to test-optional. Many students had their test dates either postponed or canceled completely due to COVID-19. As a result, many institutions began a trial period of waiving required test scores, some schools have adopted the policy full-time.

That was the main reason that SAU made the decision to switch to test-optional testing; An SAU Admissions Representative says, “St. Ambrose wanted to give students the opportunity to still apply and be admitted since a lot of test centers were not available.” There is a sort of burden being taken off of students who couldn’t physically go and take a test.

One Ambrose student, who preferred to not be mentioned by name, was admitted after test scores became optional, “I think it’s great that so much weight is no longer put on one single test. I know I am not a great test taker, and am glad that I was still able to apply and be admitted to multiple colleges despite the fact that I didn’t have the best score.”

This recent major change in how students go about applying to universities leaves those who were required to have an ACT/SAT score wondering if this change is “fair” to them. Jack, a student who did submit his test scores says, “I think it’s great that testing is now optional, but as someone who took the ACT multiple times, as well as went to numerous tutoring sessions to try and raise my score, it is in a sense frustrating to see that all my hard work in the past is no longer necessary.”

Nicole, who also was admitted before testing became optional, explains, “I worked really hard to get the SAT score that I did. Just thinking of the test reminds me of all the stress it caused me back in high school. In that sense, I am glad future college applicants don’t have to go through what I and so many others did, but also find it almost unfair too.”

There are certainly varying opinions on the idea of test-optional admissions. One side finds it to be liberating, that students should not be forced to take a test that could make or break their chances at higher education. On the other hand, those who were required to submit test scores in order to be admitted may question how their college application experience would have gone had they not been required to submit scores. Nevertheless, very few seem to be against the idea of test-optional admissions becoming a mainstay nationwide.

Jackson Graber is a staff writer for The Buzz.