Come junior year, high school students across the country start drawing up their to-do lists in preparation for applying to colleges. We know all colleges need essays, although some are different than others. Some colleges require resumes and others need supplemental essays or letters of recommendation. However, the number of colleges requiring SAT scores to be sent in as a part of your complete application is changing rapidly. More and more schools are offering up an "SAT optional" application. This begs the question: are SAT scores really that important?
The short answer is no.
Standardized testing for colleges was first initiated in 1900, according to PBS, although the official SAT exams by The College Board didn't administer their first set of questions until 1926. These examinations are constantly changing, evolving the questions, grading tactics and scoring every few years. Colleges, up until recently, were still following along. In fact, many of these colleges uphold a particular range of scores that students need to be accepted.
Sure, scoring high looks good and is one of the pieces that give schools a depiction of yourself as a college student, but this isn't the only thing: many athletics and extracurricular activities can affect the average scores when it comes to national testing, Forbes reports. Some colleges aren't even requiring SAT scores anymore when it comes to college admissions, as they are choosing to supplement the SAT with other testing scores or nothing at all. While this does put more pressure on the grades and achievements of the overall student, this shift in the methods of which we apply to college may be worth it.
My senior year, I applied to Wesleyan University for English. It probably wasn't the best decision for me anyway, only offering a writing certificate for me--the journalism student--but I was blinded by the lure of Lin Manuel Miranda and their other successful alumnus. The short story is that I didn't get in. It was a reach school for me anyways.
I toured the school after sending in my application, SAT scores and recommendation letters attached. They didn't have any other short essays or requirements. My SAT scores were average, but my guidance counselor pushed me to submit them. Wesleyan had an SAT-optional status. At the information session before the tour, it was brought up by one of the admissions staff to not submit them if they didn't fit with the school's "normal" scores. I sunk in my seat. I knew then and there I wasn't getting in, holding a smile and continuing on the tour with my mom as she pointed out all the cool buildings and clubs.
They didn't really see the need for SAT scores, going off of grades and recommendation letters, seeing every student as an equal part of the university (which also was their explanation on why they didn't offer any academic scholarship to students). But Wesleyan wasn't alone. Many of my friends went through similar experiences.
The days of paying for SAT tutors and taking extra test-prep classes are coming to an end. Universities and students are coming to the conclusion that the test isn't teaching what needs to be learned in order to achieve and find success in college. The "well-rounded individual" that you spend all of your high school careers formulating to impress colleges and your parents' friends is becoming more of a focal point— and that single score is becoming more of an afterthought.
Despite it all, the world has not yet evolved to the point where SAT scores have become obsolete. So, my opinion is that when applying to colleges you should still take some form of standardized testing, whether it be SAT or ACTs, but at the end of the day, don't let them stress you out too much.
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