Current seniors have to decide if they will include their ACT or SAT scores on their college applications.
BY GEORGE BERNARD, ’23. GRAPHIC BY STELLA PETRAS, ’22.
With college application deadlines approaching, many seniors are making the tough decision on whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT scores. This decision is a relatively new one as many colleges and universities have gone test-optional for the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 as a result of COVID-19, however there is a long history that builds to the current day.
In 1970, Bowdoin College was the first college to stop requiring applicants to submit their test scores. Over the following three decades a small number of liberal arts colleges joined in; however, the movement began to pick up steam in the early 2000s when the University of California system began to advocate for changes to the SAT and deemphasizing it in the admissions process.
As a result, the College Board decided to modify the SAT by adding a writing portion and eliminating the word analogy section. ACT followed suit by instituting changes to their test, mainly adding an optional essay. In the mid-2010s, some larger schools began adopting the policy, and when COVID hit, many more went test-optional.
According to Fairtest.org, an organization that advocates for test-optional policies, only 360 colleges and universities were test-optional in 2019, but now, over 1,750 have gone test-optional for Fall 2022 applicants, representing 73% of all U.S. bachelor-degree granting institutions.
For students who score well, submitting their scores has the potential to push them over the finish line and get them accepted. But for others, their application may be stronger in other areas and test scores play a much smaller role.
According to UAHS college counselor Kathy Moore, there are some guidelines to decide whether to submit scores.
“If their scores fall at or above the average ACT scores at a particular school, then we recommend sending them. It’s also important for students to consider whether they think their scores are an accurate indicator of them as a student”
According to the most recent data from the ACT Organization, the national average score for the ACT for the graduating class of 2020 was 20.6. However, Upper Arlington students typically do better, such as the class of 2020 who scored an average of 25.5.
While studying for the test is very useful, beginning too early may not be as beneficial as studying over a shorter period of time closer to the test. Kathy Moore recommends that students begin studying three months before the test.
Many students retake the test multiple times to improve their scores at a cost of $46 per retake.
“We see some students take it two times and others take it 4 times. It depends on the student and the amount of prep going into the test. Students usually know when they are done” according to Kathy Moore.
For many students though, submitting test scores isn’t worth it. If they only plan on applying to in-state, less competitive schools, they may not feel the time and cost of retaking the test is worth it, particularly if they aren’t a good test taker.
While the decision on whether or not to submit scores is a big one, students shouldn’t get overly stressed over one data point out of many that admissions officers take into consideration.