How the national test-optional experiment played out at US colleges | Higher Ed Dive

The college admission process is never easy. As we enter the 2022 admissions season, in a world still recovering from a global pandemic and social tumult, institutions struggle to emerge with a vision for their future. Nowhere is this more apparent than in many college admission departments’ decisions to make standardized test scores–such as the ACT and SAT–an optional component of the college admission portfolio.

But will it work? Does it make sense? Is it sustainable? And, most importantly from our perspective, what does that mean for families with children applying, or thinking about applying to college in 2022 (and beyond). 

This article nicely explains the issue, illustrating the tensions within the admissions departments of colleges and universities across the country. These institutions must balance a much needed and laudable concern for diversity, equity, and inclusion. They also search for the best method of determining a college applicant’s potential for success at their institutions. 

Another article on High Dive:

“The movement to do away with ACT/SAT scores still has a long way to go, however. Despite the research and push by advocacy groups to eliminate these requirements, most colleges and universities continue to use the tests as a benchmark for admissions”:

What does this mean for students and families?

Of course, all students wish to maximize their potential for success in high school, college, and after graduation. An ever-changing job market and world in transition complicate everything. A student who prepares for a college admissions process heavily weighted towards standardized tests may look for ACT and SAT Prep through online or in-person tutoring. They may take practice tests. Or they may meet with a private tutor–along with other forms of educational consulting for standardized tests. They will be incredibly prepared to do well on standardized tests. However, in an admissions culture where the value of standardized tests is constantly shifting, where does this situate them?


Of course, more work can always be done. A terrific writer hones their skills through online tutoring, essay writing support, and English tutors. Math tutors help high-level math students reach the next level. Educational and admissions consultants work with students and families to put together the best plan for achieving goals they have set for themselves.

What Does Mean for the Future?

Preparation for standardized tests like the SSAT, PSAT, ACT, SAT, and someday possibly, the GRE, LSAT, and MCAT (among many) is essential to a successful academic career. The motivation to prepare for these tests goes hand in hand with the ambition to achieve. If schools shift to a G.P.A based admissions model–combined with an emphasis on essay writing, extra-curriculars, and non-academic achievement–students who are well prepared for standardized tests will be able to excel in all these other areas. 

They probably already are.