As more and more colleges and universities go test-optional, standardized testing has become less significant for college admissions and applications. Although the SAT Subject Tests and SAT Essay were recently abolished, standardized testing should still remain a part of the college admissions process.
Though Grade-Point Average has been evidenced to be a greater indicator of a student’s success in college than standardized testing, a committee from the University of California collected data that undermines this existing research, concluding that SAT scores are, in fact, equally as good of indicators. The report states, “for any given high school GPA, a student admitted with a low SAT score is between two and five times more likely to drop out after one year, and up to three times less likely to complete their degree compared to a student with a high score.” Standardized testing also provides students who are more disadvantaged or who have access to fewer resources with the ability to demonstrate their academic caliber at a relatively lower cost in comparison to joining a sports team or taking up an instrument.
Furthermore, without test scores, the college admission process would be more heavily reliant on high school GPA, which may provide teachers and schools incentive to dole out better grades or conduct grade inflation. If grade inflation were to occur more prevalently across the country, students’ GPAs would lose their merit as it would no longer accurately measure their academic performance. Standardized tests thus serve as methods to combat possible grade inflation. Also, the difficulty of school curricula varies from school to school; straight A’s at a public school may coincide with B’s at a more rigorous private school. Standardized tests thus provide an opportunity for students at more challenging schools to compete through their test scores against students at less demanding schools who might have better GPAs. Finally, with the discontinuation of SAT Subject Tests, the AP exams remain as the only standardized test for specific subjects. The AP’s also provide students with college credit and exposure to what college classes are like, which is an indispensable experience.
Some believe standardized testing is not a good indicator of academic merit; they argue it tests the ability to look for certain patterns in the questions or cram before their test date. However, if SAT and ACT requirements are relinquished, an opportunity for students who attend more difficult schools or those who are more disadvantaged to illustrate their academic ability to colleges. Though they do have shortcomings, such as cheating scandals, standardized tests are essential to the college admissions process. With possible modifications to the current tests or with the establishment of alternative testing opportunities, an improved standardized test can be established.