May 20, 2020
By Ghita Kdiry
Taking the SAT or ACT is known as both a rite of passage as well as an anxiety-inducing experience. But with high schools throughout the nation closed, a growing number of colleges and universities are waiving college admissions test requirements.
According to the Washington Post, it is estimated that a million first-time SAT and ACT test-takers missed out on testing this spring.
The College Board announced that in May, early access to register for the August, September and October tests will open up to students who were registered for the canceled June test as well as members of the Class of 2021 who do not have SAT scores.
According to the ACT’s website, all students who registered for the April 4 test received an email informing them that the test has been postponed and offering instructions for free rescheduling on June 13 or future test dates.
California’s public universities as well Rutgers University-Newark in Newark, N.J. and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. are among the growing list of colleges and universities that are going test-optional in order to ease the stress on students caused by COVID-19.
Junior Matthew Derrig, who had registered to take the March 14 SAT, said he is relieved by this news because he feels overwhelmed by his current schoolwork.
“Junior year is already so stressful, and it’s hard for me to stay on top of things,” Derrig said. “I’ve never taken the SATs before, [and] I think it’s very helpful that I don’t have to take the SAT anymore to get into some colleges.”
Derrig said that getting rid of the testing requirement will help ease anxiety among juniors.
“I think all colleges should do away with [the SAT and ACT] for the Class of 2021,” Derrig said. “Junior year has proven to be the hardest, and it’s so stressful to stay on top of everything because of all the cancellations…. Moving forward, it would just be fair for all colleges to get rid of the requirement.”
For decades, SAT and ACT scores have been an essential part of the application to almost all competitive schools. However, in recent years, college admissions tests have weathered many scandals and have been criticized for providing wealthy families with unfair advantages. Just last year, federal prosecutors charged more than 50 people with bribery and fraud for buying spots in the freshman classes at highly competitive schools. This scheme involved falsifying students’ SAT and ACT scores by bribing test administrators.
Junior Faiza Chowdhury said she hopes the suspension of the college admissions test requirements for the Class of 2021 will force colleges and universities to take a more holistic approach when evaluating prospective students.
“We should be judged on our own character and what we’ve accomplished in high school,” Chowdhury said. “I wish admissions were less of a game and more of an analysis [of] a student’s character, accomplishment and ambitions…. I don’t want my class to be defined by one number from one test that has always been skewed towards those with resources.”
Chowdhury said a good score on a standardized test is not a reliable indicator of a student’s potential.
“I never thought of a good SAT score as a guaranteed admission into any college I wanted,” Chowdhury said. “I want to be satisfied with my score, but I also want to show colleges my true personality and ambitions through my applications, including my personal essays.”
Junior Nicole Masnik who has not yet taken the SAT, said she feels that the cancellation of the SAT tests scheduled for the spring has resulted in an inconvenient situation for high school students.
“I was hoping to retake the SATs in June and hopefully improve [from my PSAT score],” Masnik said. “I do feel less comfortable since it’s been delayed and that I have to take it at a later date.”
Masnik said she planned to rely on her SAT scores to help her secure a spot at the colleges that are of interest to her.
“I consider them a large portion of my application to college,” Masnik said. “Many colleges won’t be requiring an SAT score for the Class of 2021 admissions, [so] I do feel more relieved since these tests can be quite difficult.”