Are Colleges Dropping SAT requirements? What You Should Do!


(Photo/Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu/Unsplash)

Alex Darenkov, Staff Writer

It is no surprise that amid the coronavirus outbreak all of our norms have been reassessed and modified to fit this new lifestyle. Perhaps the most impactful of these changes has been towards education, whether it is with online learning or college applications. Virtually all schools have gone with a remote learning approach, with no clear end in sight. This resulted in changes in the college application process as we know it. Unfortunately, all standardized tests have been canceled in an effort to keep people from gathering in large numbers. Sure, this is flattening the curve of the outbreak, but it has also caused more and more schools to go test optional for this upcoming wave of applicants, as well as for future years.

So, what does this mean in the world of college decisions for Juniors? There appear to be positives and negatives to this situation. For one, students may not need to send their scores to some of their choice colleges. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all schools have dropped this requirement, so the choice to take the SAT or ACT is different for everyone. The biggest question here is, “Do I take the test or not?”  Yes, this means that a heavy burden is dropped from the shoulders of many juniors and seniors, but is it really a burden that a student should drop?

Princeton Day School Associate Director of College Counseling Cynthia Michalak offered professional insight into this situation: “The advantage is that colleges that already do a holistic review will put more emphasis on everything else [supplements, writing, transcripts].” These standardized tests have already been seen as biased towards certain financial situations and educational opportunities, and test optional college applications will help minimize these problems. Ms. Michalak went on to say that PDS students have nothing to worry about because colleges know that our students come from a high caliber school with rigorous academics. When asked if rising seniors should still take the SAT, Ms. Michalak suggested registering to take the many tests offered in the fall because not all schools have made a decision regarding applications. She also mentioned that students should take each opportunity given to them to show their capabilities. 

When posing similar questions to junior Trevor Kunkle, he was upset that he was not able to take the test to represent himself in the best way. He added, “It will probably make it a lot harder because a lot more people are going to apply to these colleges, so you have to have a stronger application in the other areas. It definitely would have helped to have that extra step. I’m definitely going to take the SAT in the fall.” 

It seems like students should continue studying for their standardized tests, as it will only help them when it comes down to the wire in those top admissions offices. That score could be the deciding factor between two similar applicants, one who took the test and one who did not. Also, colleges want to see what you did to apply yourself during these times, not what you did not do, and what you used as an excuse. Going into the future, many schools are doing a three year pilot program to study the effectiveness of test-optional applications. We may even see a completely redesigned application process come out this. But as of now, make sure you apply yourself as much as possible, and why not take that test?