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Colleges Going Test-Optional Has Affected the Importance of SAT/ACTs to Students

The homepage of the College Board website to sign up for upcoming SAT dates and deadlines. Photo credit to College Board.

The November SAT is coming up and many juniors are scrambling to get a “good” score. With many colleges choosing to go test optional, there is an on-going debate on whether SAT and/or ACT scores are providing any benefit to students who choose to submit their scores.

“Overall it’s not nearly as important as it was pre-COVID and only certain schools are requiring them,” said Lisa Wood, the College and Career Center Advisor at Freedom High School. “Maybe some schools, for certain majors, are requiring them. You really have to do your research before you get to your senior year. If they don’t require it or you’re not a strong test taker, focus on your coursework of courses you take and the academic results you could get.”

For some students, standardized tests are not the best way to measure their academic capacity to do well in college, but for some, the SAT is a great way to show their intelligence level. In fact, because those who are submitting their SAT scores are for the most part, good test takers who scored very high, the average SAT scores in specific colleges have jumped many points, according to Wood.

Many Virginia colleges and universities have publicly spoken about whether SAT scores amount to anything in their admissions process. The University of Virginia (UVA), for example, is more interested in how the students present themselves through the supplemental essays.

“They said that before test optional became a thing, they would describe tests as being less important than the public even thinks it was,” said Colleen Hurley, a guidance counselor at FHS.  “So the perception was that even if UVA said tests are not that important, the public was still like, ‘Oh no, the tests are important and they really work’. [UVA] said students aren’t a score or a checkbox.”

But still, students are adamant on taking the SAT and/or ACT.

“I think that the SAT or ACT would be beneficial for college applications because it adds to your qualifications and if you get a good score then it increases your chances of getting chosen,” said junior Anuska Dahal.

So many high school students, especially at schools where academic competitiveness is at a high, have the perception that SAT scores are going to give them a better chance of getting into their dream college. This way of thinking could be right or wrong, but based on the information provided by colleges so far, SAT scores, outwardly, do not have any effect on students who choose to submit their scores versus students who choose not to. 

Historically, SATs and ACTs had more importance surrounding them, but now, some of that importance has shifted more to extracurricular activities, grades and even volunteering.

 “By taking it, you at least have that out of the way should you need it down the road. And if you don’t, or you don’t want to send it cool, no harm, no foul, really,” Hurley said. 

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About the Contributor
Amogha Chetla
Amogha Chetla, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Amogha Chetla, and I’m a junior at Freedom High School. This is my third year with Uncaged, and I’m really excited to be able to produce content once again. Outside of school, I enjoy reading and hanging out with my friends.