Eye of the Tiger

WELKER: Test-optional apps ease pressure

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WELKER: Test-optional apps ease pressure

BEN WELKER

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With most seniors taking the SAT for the last time this past Saturday and college application deadlines fast approaching, having a good SAT or ACT score is an integral component in getting into that dream school with a great financial aid package.

Usually a few study sessions and test-prep books will lift a student’s score to the range for which they’re shooting.

But we don’t always score ideally, and when we don’t it’s hard to be optimistic about or confident in about any college application. So when our scores come back less impressive than we had hoped, is attending community college our only option? Or do we have to settle for a college that we are not really too excited about?

It feels like these are our two options, but over 880 college and Universities’ application processes are now test-optional – students can substitute standardized test scores with a written essay or by participating in an interview based on two current event articles, and the admissions team is able to have another piece of data to evaluate the prospective student.

    It isn’t uncommon for an otherwise high-achieving student to score below average on any of these standardized tests, for a multitude of reasons. For that issue, test-optional applications are a perfect solution.

I have worked very hard in school and have earned a healthy GPA in multiple sections of honors, AP and CP classes. A test number does not always accurately reflect a person’s ability, and I believe that three and a half hours in a room bubbling in a scantron does not represent my accomplishments from the past three and a half years at Roseville High School.

Test-optional applications are a big deal for students like me who have a learning disability, test anxiety or struggle to sit through a three plus hour test. I love this option as a dyslexic student. I read very slowly, and when I need to comprehend the text, my spelling is very inventive and requires a lot of editing when I am writing.

Now, getting a great score is an awesome accomplishment and if this is not an issue for you because you score well on standardized tests, testing optional applications don’t necessarily concern you. But having dyslexia impedes my test-taking efficiency, and knowing that I have the option of not showing scores is a huge relief to me.

Test-optional applications are not only beneficial for the students, but also for the colleges and universities who will be able to admit well-qualified applicants who might have been turned away because of their standardized test score. Submitting what I know are inadequate scores makes college applications a process of pessimism and second-guesses, and knowing that there’s a better way to convey myself and abilities makes me more confident with what I’m including in my applications.

Research continues to show that high school coursework and GPA are more accurate predictors of college success. SAT scores no longer reliably predict college success and are becoming an outdated tool to assess incoming students.

Schools that are not test-optional put me and many other kids at a disadvantage in their current application process. How many brilliant students with learning challenges won’t attend the college of their choice because that school didn’t offer them a better avenue to present themselves? How many brilliant students won’t apply to their dream school because they didn’t know test-optional applications even were an option? Hopefully advisors and counselors do a better job of getting the word out to students as we begin the process of applying for college.

 

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