Colleges continue to switch to test optional and unfair barriers continue to fall

William Fisher, Online Editor-In-Chief

  As Seniors are wrapping up their college application process and Juniors are starting it, a major change in both of their experiences was and will be the tide of many universities going test optional, that being that students can choose whether they want their standardized test score to be considered in their application. Some may be excited about this change while others feel it is allowing undeserved people to get into top institutions.

  While this change was rapidly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which made it impossible for students to even take a test, the change is far from a new movement. This process actually began in 1969 with Bowdoin College, and reached more than 1000 colleges even before the pandemic started. 

  However the major change as a result of the pandemic was the more prestigious colleges switching to test optional, such as Harvard University and Stanford University, both of which are staying test optional for the 2023-2024 application season. 

  In 2022 the number of universities that are test optional rose to 1800+, with colleges finding that the students they admitted without a test score were often just as successful as those they accepted with a test score. It also led to a huge rise in the number of applications to colleges as prospective students no longer instantly saw themselves as not good enough for top universities. 

  The major issue with standardized tests is the question of what exactly they measure and the value of that to a college, and how the test benefits those with more money, who can afford to buy study guides, take the test multiple times, and even hire a tutor. 

  Another problem being the value of a good standardized test score compared to a students GPA, extracurriculars, and essays. 

  The important thing to remember with test optional is that you have options. If you are able to get a good standardized test score then you are still able to submit it to a university, and they will still place value on that. 

  However if you are unable to get a good score then this is a freeing change which will allow you a chance at top colleges and allows you to emphasize the other parts of your application. 

  Overall test optional does not mean that standardized tests have no value, rather it means that every individual can choose whether to have it valued in their admissions process, and is a breaking down of an unfair barrier rather than an allowing of the unqualified to get into top universities.