AWHS counselors recommend seniors to stray from standardized tests

AWHS counselor Sheila Souder reading college essays in her office.

Naomi Betz

AWHS counselor Sheila Souder reading college essays in her office.

The high school class of 2021 experienced a college application process like no other. Standardized tests required for college applications, the SAT or ACT, were canceled or postponed, and the few testing sites that were available filled up quickly. Many universities were forced to get rid of the standardized test requirement as, according to the Washington Post, 1 million students could no longer take the test. 

This adaptation in the college application process has created confusion amongst the class of 2022 as to whether or not they should take standardized tests. 

In the past two years, the college application process has changed drastically. Schools began grading their students in different ways than ever before due to online learning. Many students haven’t been able to take tests such as the SAT or ACT as a result of COVID-19. Colleges were then faced with the question of how to determine which students to accept. 

Most universities are now test-optional or not accepting test scores at all. AWHS counselors predict that less and less schools will be accepting standardized tests, and University of California (UC) schools are discussing the possibility of replacing the SAT and ACT with their own test. 

AWHS class of 2021 alum Olivia Nardell felt a sense of relief when she learned that universities were no longer requiring standardized tests. 

“Students have always hated standardized testing and recognized the flaws, especially the systematic flaws…  so getting rid of the SAT and ACT feels great for kids applying to college,” Nardell said.

Nardell believes that in the past, universities were basing their student admissions heavily on student SAT or ACT scores. 

“…when you look at overall admissions last year, you can tell that having a test score helps. Universities are going to have to stop relying on the SATs but they’re flailing without them. Last year with the absence of the SAT college admissions got really screwed up. It made it so obvious how much colleges base their admissions decisions on test scores,” Nardell said.

According to AWHS college counselors Sheila Souder and Molly Baker, standardized tests are no longer recommended. Counselors recommend that a student first looks at colleges they’re interested in to see if they’re test blind, meaning even if a student submits their standardized test scores the university will not factor in those results in the student’s admissions process. Souder and Baker believe that the SAT is no longer relevant, and want to see students find a school where they’re evaluated as unique human beings, not how well they can take a test. 

Souder recommended that neither the class of 2021 nor 2022 take the SAT or ACT. Regardless, Souder and other counselors believe they still saw some parents pressure their kids into taking standardized tests. 

In an email sent to Souder by the Tulane admission office, they encouraged all students and faculty to forget about standardized testing.  

“Next time you get an email from ACT or College Board, scroll to the bottom of the email to that tiny button and hit UNSUBSCRIBE. Unsubscribe from ACT and College Board and then never worry ever again. We will give every single student the same shot at being admitted. We want the admit rate for students without tests to be the exact same as those with tests,” Tulane admissions office said. “If I see students take the test 2 times in the middle of a global pandemic, it will be a turn-off for me. I will wonder why they are doing that and putting their health, and the health of others at risk. NOBODY should be driving multiple hours, or getting on an airplane to take a test.”

The AWHS community is unsure of the future of standardized testing and college applications, but AWHS counselors assure seniors that they will not have to worry about standardized testing.