Test-optional trend relieves seniors and SAT’s significance

SAT and ACT are among the scariest letters in a high schooler’s vocabulary. This year, however, some Sequoia seniors applying to college can breathe sighs of relief. Over 800 accredited colleges, including the recent addition of George Washington University, have eliminated their requirement for standardized tests. Senior Cambria Erskine is encouraged by this change to apply to more colleges.

“It’s not about students [as much as] it’s about rankings. What it started out to be and what it turned out to be are two different things.” 

-Terri Ignaitis, College and Career Counselor

“[The tests] are not the best judgement of what a student can do and what a student can accomplish,” Erskine said. “You hear a lot of stories of successful businessmen who drop out [of high school] early and start a multimillion dollar company.  There’s a lot of unknown variables that can affect the final [test] score—it doesn’t really showcase what a student’s full potential is.”

Erskine prepared for the ACT with the school’s BUILD program, who provided her with a study guide and tutor. Although she had a positive experience, she still isn’t a big fan of the test itself.

Still, Sequoia will administer the PSAT to all sophomores and juniors on Oct. 14 on a special class schedule, where freshmen and seniors, who don’t have to take the test, arrive in the afternoon.

“[Researchers] have done studies where they say that overall [the SAT and ACT] are accurate predictors of success in college,” College and Career Counselor Terri Ignaitis said. “You can be successful without having that test, but it’s just another indicator.”

However, more and more schools are beginning to drop the test.

George Washington University’s Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton said in a Washington Post article from July 2015, “Although we have long employed a holistic application review process, we had concerns that students who could be successful at GW felt discouraged from applying if their scores were not as strong as their high school performance,”

This isn’t a completely brand new idea. Bowdoin College dropped the requirements in 1969 and Bates College in 1984.

“I’ve always thought of [the SAT or ACT] as one of the most important things for getting into college,” sophomore Nate Burrill said. “What college you get into can affect your entire future. If this trend continues, colleges will be forced to look more at what the people have actually done and recommendations, rather than just a test score.”

Ignaitis also pointed out a bigger part of this optional SAT/ACT trend: college rankings. Colleges gain funding and in general work to get their needs met through a competitive ranking system that involves GPA and test scores. If they get student applicants who don’t test well to not have to send their scores, the college’s overall average SAT or ACT score can go up.

“It’s not about students [as much as] it’s about rankings,” Ignaitis said. “What it started out to be and what it turned out to be are two different things.”