Some universities are now opting to go SAT/ACT optional


Many schools, such as Assumption College, no longer require test scores. This change benefited the students who didn’t do very well on the SAT/ACT tests by allowing them to shine in the face of a university’s admissions staff. “Test optional schools allow for students to shine in other areas other than academics,” said Joey Ferro ‘20.

Elise Dinbergs, Co-A&E Editor

This time of the year is critical for HBHS seniors-it is time to fill out college applications. The process of college applications is a daunting one, since there are a lot of steps involved in it. One of these steps is taking a variety of  standardized tests, such as the SAT and the ACT.  

Today, there is hope for students who dread the process of taking standardized testing, as many colleges and universities are now opting to be standardized testing free to accommodate the needs of these students.  Even though there is a switch for schools to be test optional, many haven’t taken the initiative to switch their applications just yet.

Still, “there are over 4,000 schools in the country, and of that, there are only just under 1,000 schools that offer test-optional applications,” said Theressa Risdal, the Guidance Department Head at HBHS.  The idea of test-optional schools isn’t available everywhere in the country, and it doesn’t seem likely there will ever be a time where they will all be test-optional. 

“Even if a school doesn’t require SAT/ACT scores for admissions, the school still uses them for merit money scholarships, which many students miss out on,” said Risdal. Universities still factor the student’s grades/GPA and standardized testing scores to allocate a money package to help pay for tuition.  

There are still benefits for those who decide to send in their SAT/ACT scores. Even if the school doesn’t require them, these scores could help them shine through the whole pool of applicants that year and could thus gain admission based off of them. According to  ACT spokesman Ed Colby, “scores are the only admission decision factor that provide a common, standardized metric allowing colleges to compare students from different schools, states and countries on a level playing field. Since there are many factors to the admissions process, including extracurriculars and academics, if a student has higher standardized testing scores, it could help the admissions counselors decide those who are fit to be at that university, and those who are not.”

SAT scores aren’t the only part of the admissions process though. A student’s extracurriculars and other academics also factor into the admissions decision. Colleges look at many things such as “good grades, hard classes and anything else also looks good on a college application,” said senior Joey Ferro ‘20. Test- optional universities allow a student’s extracurricular activities and talents to shine through on their application without the focus of the test holding them back.

Test-optional schools can also provide a safe haven for those who didn’t do well on the SAT or ACT. Many kids aren’t suited to standardized testing and would rather not send them to their school of choice. Even those with good grades have a chance to not do well on these tests because they are physically draining.  When a student knows that there are schools in the US that allow for optionalSAT/ACT score sending, they know they can shine in their other areas.

“There are a handful of kids that aren’t great at standardized testing, and when they don’t do well on the PSAT/SAT/ACT, they think that they aren’t smart, but that’s not the case,” said Vero LeBlanc ‘20. “Those test optional schools let them shine in their other areas, instead of looking at their standardized testing scores.” 

Knowing this, many HBHS seniors can take a step back and relax, knowing that they don’t have to show their test scores to admissions counselors. Omitting the test scores from the application process makes it less daunting and a less stressful process for everyone involved. If they don’t submit their scores, they could be missing out on crucial financial aid that their school of choice provides for them, and if they do, they can have a chance to stand out in the pool of applicants that apply to that university.