Standardized Testing

May 6, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 15
Should higher education drop admission exams permanently?
By Val Ellicott


Even before COVID-19 threw standardized testing into disarray, hundreds of colleges and universities had made SAT and ACT scores optional for admissions. Such policies, rooted in findings that the exams are unreliable in predicting college performance and favor wealthier students who can pay for expensive test preparation, surged during the pandemic as testing centers closed. More than 1,800 higher education institutions are test-optional for admissions this fall, with some even going test-blind and declining to look at exam scores altogether. Critics of standardized tests say test-optional policies boost minority and lower-income student populations, and that high school grades are a better indicator of college readiness. But some experts say test scores are more important than ever at a time when grade inflation has made high school GPAs less meaningful. The two major testing companies, meanwhile, are innovating to adapt to the test-optional trend, with the SAT going digital in 2024.

Photo of student in Pembroke Pines, Florida, preparing for SAT on March 6, 2014. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)
A student in Florida prepares for the SAT with a private tutor. Many colleges and universities are making SAT and ACT exams optional for admissions, saying they are not good predictors of academic performance and favor affluent white students. Others say the tests help identify disadvantaged students who may be prepared for college. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Standards and Testing
May 06, 2022  Standardized Testing
Jan. 04, 2013  Plagiarism and Cheating
Apr. 29, 2011  School Reform
Computers and the Internet
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Education Policy
Education Standards and Testing
Federal Courts
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Online Education
Research in Education
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Undergraduate and Graduate Education