In response to the Covid crisis, many colleges have temporarily adopted a test-optional admissions policy. However, we are told the overwhelming majority of the top-tier US and International colleges evaluating college applications still prefer to see an SAT or ACT score.
What does the SAT or ACT actually measure and is it a fair assessment of a student’s ability?
The College Board states that the SAT is intended to measure literacy, numeracy and writing skills that are needed for academic success in college. They state that the SAT assesses how well the test-takers analyze and solve problems—skills they learned in school that they will need in college.
“Some parts of the SAT and ACT clearly measure what a student has learned. If that’s all they measured, they’d maybe be useful tools in the admission process. They also—to a greater or lesser degree—measure emotional control, speed processing, and formal preparation and practice, among other things,” says College Consultant, Jon Boeckenstedt.
Educational stalwart Edsource.org reaffirms that “Standardized tests are the best predictor of a student’s first-year success, retention, and graduation. The value of admissions test scores in predicting college success has increased, while the value of grades has decreased, due in part to high school grade inflation and different grading standards.”
According to US News and World Reports, the SAT and ACT remain popular even as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many colleges to go test-optional and temporarily deemphasize these exams in admissions considerations. In the class of 2020, nearly 2.2 million test-takers completed the SAT at least once while about 1.7 million students took the ACT. It is unclear how many students took both, but experts say it is common for test-takers to do so.
Whether your student decides to submit a standardized test score usually depends on what that score is. Many college counselors recommend benchmark practice tests for students and counsel from there.
In general, most students with profiles strong enough to apply for admission to the more competitive test-optional colleges should try to prep for and attain strong test scores to enhance their applications.