There are many college-bound seniors who are anxious and struggling on whether to take the standardized tests or not since the test centers are gradually cancelling or closing, due to new factors. For instance, one student registered to take an ACT test, but had to change the location three times. In Hong Kong, 9 SAT test centers were closed on May 8, according to College Board. Other than the pandemic causing the above closures, test leaks and distribution of test questions were additional factors that enhanced uncertainty among many college-bound students. Considering this situation, should students spend their time and effort on preparing for the SAT or ACT?
When looking up articles related to test-optional policies in the U.S. colleges, one will find different views of taking the tests. For example, some articles asserted that taking the tests is not necessary for students because it is hard to assess or identify students’ personalities or talents through their scores, and they can put more effort on preparing other requirements, such as writing personal experience essays or doing extracurricular. On the other hand, some articles recommend taking the SAT or ACT despite the requirement becoming optional since the test makes applicants appear more serious to the university. Because the articles had different arguments about the policies, confusions still remained. Therefore, I reached out to prestigious universities in order to get detailed information about the policies, and received responses from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emory, Carnegie Mellon, California Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, and UCLA. The responses mentioned that standardized tests are recommended, but not required. In the case of Georgetown University, it was commented that, “We are not test optional, but we understand that some students may be prevented from taking the tests due to COVID-19, so the Office of Undergraduate Admissions will be flexible and fully consider applications from students who encounter difficulties completing standardized tests due to the pandemic.”
In the past, most of the students focused mainly on achieving high scores on their standardized tests for college admission. However, as new policies are adopted, students have more opportunities to reveal their merits. In addition, the new change in the U.S. college application system lowered the barrier for applications and provided more opportunities for students to experience better education.
Chris Ghim, Grade 12th