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SAT and ACT - is it worth a shot? 2022-04-13 오후 10:31:00

Among the myriad ways in which the COVID-19 outbreak has altered our society, perhaps none has had a greater impact than education outside of healthcare.

The SAT, which dates back to the 1920s, has been an important benchmark used by the United State's leading colleges and institutions to evaluate each year's incoming freshmen class for as long as most of us can remember. The test's well-known format has inspired a plethora of SAT prep materials, ranging from text and online resources to tutorials and classroom sessions.

However, the pandemic put a halt to universities that required standardized testing, which had been the fundamental basis for admissions in the United States for decades. As the limits on Covid-19 loosen, widespread mandated use of the ACT and SAT entrance examinations isn't returning as swiftly. One factor is that schools expect more setbacks and want to give candidates stability. Another source of concern is huge racial disparities and discrimination on the basis of social class in SAT results, which have been blamed for the unequal educational opportunities.

Before the pandemic, proponents and opponents of standardized testing disputed on whether eliminating the testing requirements would make a significant difference. Yet, according to a study based on pre-pandemic data from 99 colleges between 2005 and 2016, s hifting from test-required to test-optional admissions policies increased enrollment of Black, Latino, and Indigenous students by 1%, increased the share of low-income students by a similar amount, and increased the enrollment of women by 4%. Thousands of underprivileged students were admitted to these colleges as a result of these discrepancies, but proponents of SAT and ACT testing maintained that the differences were too tiny to be meaningful, and that discontinuing standardized exams as part of the admissions process was not justified.

Although it is true that white and privileged students are more likely than Black or less fortunate students to continue submitting SAT or ACT scores, students have applied to college in great numbers as a result of optional testing. The overall number of applications for the Common Application, which manages online applications for 900 colleges, increased from 5.6 million in 2020 to 6.2 million in 2021.

Many colleges have seen substantial increases in minority student applications, first-generation college students, and students from socioeconomically deprived backgrounds. Thus, many experts feel that in the past, these individuals did not bother to apply to colleges that they thought were out of sight because of their SAT or ACT scores. In an interview with CBS Money Watch in 2021, Michelle McAnaney, who is the president of The College Spy consulting firm, said, “students who normally would self-select out of the admissions pool — they would look at the average SAT score and not apply — those kids are applying.”

Undeterred by these drastic results, the topic of standardized testing seems to stay controversial.

Last month, MIT announced that it will once again demand SAT or ACT scores from future applicants, alleging that the standardized tests are particularly beneficial for determining aptitude among potential students, which the college believes is required for students to be successful once admitted. Based on the belief of MIT and other colleges, by eliminating examination, we are robbing ourselves of an important tool for examining the consequences of our existing legislation. Certainly, it is ironic that the epidemic has hastened the effort to eliminate standardized-testing requirements in higher education, because the development of the outbreak in the United States conveys relevant information: Eradicating standardized test scores will only the create a greater issue as the problem would be harder to recognize and address.

Students from affluent backgrounds don't merely receive stronger SAT scores. They also excel on every other factor used by admissions committees to choose students. Many standardized-test critics advocate for colleges to focus on applicants' high-school grades. Even so, low-income students, have lower grades in average, especially if their parents do not have a college diploma. Furthermore, admissions officers frequently take into account not just grades but also the courses that students have taken. Advanced curriculum is extremely segmented: for descriptive purposes, calculus is offered in less than half of American high schools. Moreover, parents are well aware that their children's sports teams, volunteer activities, and internships all necessitate significant time and financial commitments. 

Dropping any admissions requirement demands a decision to prioritize other aspects. If other attributes, such as personal essays, recommendations, and coursework, are much more directly associated with household income than test results, then lowering test scores actually levels the competition even further in favor of affluent students. After suspending the SAT requirement in 2020, MIT found itself in this circumstance.

In the end, students and their families don't always have a say in the standardized tests they take. School districts, college admissions offices, and graduate programs are responsible of making such a decision. The choice to discontinue the tests is debatable, and this controversial dispute comes at a pivotal moment when the society as a whole is attempting to make the admissions process more equitable.

한국외국인학교 (Korea International School)
Kaylee Kim
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