In recent years, several high-ranking colleges have made the submission of SAT or ACT scores optional for prospective students. Such schools include Wake Forest University and Wesleyan, as well as George Washington University, which recently became the largest institution to announce a switch to test-optional admission for applicants, with the exception of home-schooled students, athletes and pre-med students.
This rising trend, even at some of the nation’s most selective schools, is good news for members of the working class. This is because the switch means that prospective students are evaluated based on their overall high school accomplishments rather than a single test.
Studies suggest that low family income often directly correlates with low test scores, creating a significant barrier to college admission for poor students, states U.S. News and World Report. One reason for this imbalance is that wealthier students frequently enroll in costly test prep courses that are out of financial reach for most test-takers.
Standardized tests also pose a disadvantage for minorities, states Time magazine. Civil rights groups claim that standardized tests are inherently discriminatory. Decades of research has shown that Latino and black students tend to score lower than white and Asian students. First-generation college applicants also usually perform more poorly than applicants with family members who attended college.
Another recent study concludes that high school grades are a better predictor of college success than standardized test scores, reports National Public Radio. Holistic admission based on thorough review of past classroom performance and extracurricular achievements may represent the wave of the future for college applicants.
Eliminating standardized testing provides hope for students who might not otherwise apply to college because of unsatisfactory scores. Making test scores optional is also an attractive option for schools seeking to create a more diverse student population and for students whose test scores may not reflect their intellectual abilities.