Should Colleges and Universities Permanently Go Test Optional? (Counterpoint)

Should Colleges and Universities Permanently Go Test Optional? (Counterpoint)

Yazmeen Deyhimi, Staff Writer

There is no denying that standardized testing is a controversial topic under normal circumstances. While a popular belief is that standardized tests are influenced by wealth, it is an important part of college admissions that should not be eliminated. 

“While in the midst of a pandemic, test optional policies are completely necessary, but it is also important to think about what these policies mean for the future.  Even though standardized test scores may be perceived as unfairly giving an advantage to one group, in reality, they are the most equal metric available.  Without standardized test scores, colleges rely more on grades and essays, which can vary even more with socioeconomic status than test scores do,” said senior Samantha Radinsky. 

 There has been significant evidence that success on standardized tests is a  good indicator of how successfully students will perform in the future.  Accepting applicants solely based on grade point average is not an accurate representation of academic capabilities; it is much easier to inflate grade point averages than a reputable test score.  Additionally, people in more affluent areas tend to have more access to Advanced Placement and honors classes that would raise their grade point averages.  A student from a wealthier neighborhood might have a higher grade point average because of those classes, but be less qualified than a student coming from a lower-income school.  

Grade point averages can also be based on the teacher’s personal tendencies.  Standardized testing provides a uniform grading system, whereas teacher-graded assignments are often biased.  All Schreiber students know that some teachers teach one class easier than another.  Additionally, it is more difficult to cheat the system on a standardized test versus an in school, unofficial test. 

“Tests give the colleges an idea of how the student does compared to other students, since they are standardized,” said sophomore Katie Kors.

Standardized tests provide an objective way for colleges to compare students because everyone is taking the same test across the entire globe.  This allows standardized tests to provide a non-discriminatory form of grading.   One complaint teachers have is they feel that they have to teach to the test.

However, the US Department of Education does not believe that tests alone should guide curriculum. “If teachers cover subject matter required by the standards and teach it well, then students will master the material on which they will be tested–and probably much more,” said the United States Department of Education on its website.

This essentially means that teaching to the test will involve more specific learning that eliminates non-essential activities.  Furthermore, having a similar curriculum for students across the country will help to improve education in rural and low income areas.

Although standardized testing is affected by some of the systemic issues our society faces, they are not the root of these systemic issues.  Colleges balance tests with other aspects of the application: letters of recommendation, essays, extracurricular activities to name a few.  Students are already taught to have varied metrics on an application.  Although standardized test scores have some issues, they are the best and only way to compare students from across the country.  With the wealth of free practice materials available online, standardized tests allow underprivileged students to compete against students from more fortunate schools.  Since they are such a unique part of the college admissions process and result in many positive outcomes, standardized test scores should be maintained as a part of the college admissions process.