How will Test-Optional affect Students?

Facts and Future Viewpoints about Standardized Testing

Before COVID-19, some schools had already abandoned the testing requirement. However, for the time being, most schools and universities in the United States are test-optional. Aviva Legatt, an Ardmore native and founder of Ivy Insight, a college admissions advising firm, explained, “The purpose behind it was twofold.”

The goal was to level the playing field for underrepresented and low-income students at first. According to Dr. Aviva Legatt, “several studies demonstrate that the test is culturally biased.” “White people tend to score better on it and are more likely to receive tutoring, exam preparation, and other services.”

Then there was COVID-19. “Colleges didn’t want to miss out on applicants who would have taken the test but couldn’t—or couldn’t study in the manner they wanted to,” Legatt explains.

While test-optional institutions don’t compel students to transmit their test scores, there’s nothing stopping an admissions official from looking at them if one is sent—and this could influence a choice. Test-blind colleges, on the other hand, will not consider scores in admissions decisions, even if they are provided.

“If you have a score that is at or above pre-pandemic levels for that college, you should submit it in,” Legatt advises students from middle- and upper-class communities who are more likely to have access to test prep and testing locations.

It’s clear to see how the test-optional shift has added to the application process’s uncertainty. “Based on students’ GPA and test results, high schools generally had a notion of the number of students they could anticipate to get into a particular college,” says Legatt. “Without the test scores, kids are finding it more difficult to construct college lists and forecast where they will be accepted.”

It has also encouraged pupils to apply to universities they previously would not have explored. “No one can have a crystal ball and know for sure,” Legatt adds, “but admissions outcomes have a lot more fluctuation.” “The goal is wonderful, but for many candidates, the actual experience has added to their stress and hardship.”

The number of UC Applicants exploded after making standardized testing optional. Source: University of California

The decision to go test-optional is never final. Following the pandemic, several universities may reinstate the testing requirement. Harvard University declared that it will keep its test-optional policy in place until 2026, with the dean of admissions stating that students who do not submit scores will not be penalized. There has been no formal decision on testing at Villanova University. Candice Keith, Villanova’s director of admission operations, adds, “We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next year or two.” “A student should undoubtedly plan and prepare to take it, depending on what grade they are in.”

Read more: Food Shortages in the U.S.