Many Schools Adopt Test-Optional Policy

By Jennifer Hill

Three hours and 45 minutes filled with multiple choice questions, essays and mathematic problems will drastically help to determine the future of a high school student. The SAT and ACT reasoning testing days are dreaded by students across the nation.

“I’m a horrible test taker so I was extremely nervous about the test,” said Maria Feehan, a freshman at Marist College. “On the actual day I had knots in my stomach because I knew my scores would affect where I went to college.”

Many students dread taking standardized tests. Image courtesy of,

Many students dread taking standardized tests. Image courtesy of,

However, many schools are now deciding to make submitting test scores optional and claiming that SAT scores should not rank a college’s quality. which is the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, advocates making standardized tests optional and provides a list of 750 four-year colleges and universities that do not require test scores.

“It is unlikely that a significant number of students who had “underperformed” in high school would suddenly excel in college,” said The National Center for Fair and Open Testing’s report entitled “Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit: Enhancing Equity and Excellence in College Admissions by Deemphasizing SAT and ACT Results.” “In any event, a test-optional policy would not hurt these applicants because they could submit SAT or ACT scores along with an explanation of their high school records.”

Not performing well on the SATs can drastically change where a student goes to college and the career path they take. Many people have developed plans in case their SAT scores are not up to a college’s criteria.

“Marist was my dream school,” said Feehan. “If I didn’t get in because of my SAT scores I would’ve went to a school near home but I would have felt like I let myself down and I wasn’t good enough.”

Although standardized testing makes many students nervous, the majority of colleges consider the scores as a crucial portion of the application. According to the Report of the Commission on the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admission by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, “by using the SAT and ACT as one of the most important admission tools, they are gaining what may be a marginal ability to identify academic talent beyond that indicated by transcripts, recommendations and achievement test scores.”

Marist does not have plans for a test-optional policy in the future and standardized tests will remain a large portion of a student’s application.

“We look at all parts of the application,” said Chris Doyle, senior assistant director of admissions at Marist. “There are 40 different aspects of an application but standardized test scores are definitely in the top 50%.”

While Marist already automatically takes an applicant’s highest test scores from all of the different dates he or she took the test, College Board has just introduced a new sat score-reporting policy which allows students to choose which scores will be sent.

According to, the new policy is “designed to reduce student stress and improve the test-day experience.”

“I think the new policy is a good idea but it will have no impact for Marist,” Doyle said. “We have always adopted that policy because we want to give students the best opportunity for admission and scholarships.”


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