After the Covid-19 pandemic made it near impossible to secure a testing site for many students, almost all colleges across the U.S. announced a “test-optional” policy for applicants. For the first time ever, applicants to top-tier schools were not required to submit SAT or ACT scores. Many students, including those who had put off the exams or were struggling to score highly, breathed a sigh of relief. If they would not be at a disadvantage without test scores, as colleges assured them, then they wouldn’t have to spend hours preparing. After all, why would colleges say it if it wasn’t true?
While we want to believe that schools are going test-optional because they have students’ best interests at heart and want to help even the playing field, we have to keep in mind that even elite universities are businesses. Any move that will strategically increase the number of applications a school receives should be looked at with a healthy dose of skepticism. Furthermore, not only do colleges and universities inaccurately tout the scores as an indicator of how students will perform in their classrooms, but their coveted U.S. News & World Report rankings are still based in some measure on their average SAT or ACT scores for their incoming freshman class.[Read more…]