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Standardized Testing in 2020: What You need to Know

The pandemic has brought about significant change in the education of all students, particularly the abilities of juniors and seniors to participate in the usual SAT and ACT exams. Much like the closures of in-person schooling in spring, testing centers have also closed, disrupting thousands of students' college application plans. The lack of testing opportunities have resulted in many colleges resorting to optionalize the requirement of standardized test scores, at least for the application process of the Class of 2021.


Photo obtained from Time Space Education 

  • January 21, 2021

Standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT have been relied on by students and educational institutions because they provide efficient assessments to measure what students have learned and their ability to succeed in college. Students' scores affect their chances of acceptance and scholarships offers from many colleges. 


In March 2020, the University of California and Cal State Universities suspended the standardized test requirement and resorted to test-optional for fall 2021 to fall 2022. They will also eliminate the SAT Essay and ACT Writing Test as a requirement for UC undergraduate admissions for fall 2021. 


“Initially, I had mixed emotions when I heard that standardized tests would be optional because I had already studied a lot and took the SAT twice,” says senior Aishwarya Thadipatrthi. “Later I realized that this test-optional policy is good, because now colleges will place more importance on other parts of our application such as our essays which reveal our personalities and are a better representation of applicants compared to their test scores.”


Colleges will focus even more on other components of student applications, such as grades, essays, extracurricular activities, and achievements, without test scores. The optional test may be negative because, while standardized test scores are not required, they are taken into account and have an impact on a student's chance of receiving merit scholarships.


Junior, Nijad Makoon says, “This year I feel making the SAT optional would be good. I don't say this with happiness but with understanding, because this whole year has been different not only for me, but for our whole community. The stress that everyone is taking in now would add to the amount of anxiety children would have for the test and parents paying for the test.”


“While I was prepared to take the SAT test, I was relieved when I heard they would be optional for most admission applications this year,” says a senior who wishes to stay anonymous. “While I would probably take the test if [it was] still available, knowing that colleges are not weighing those scores as a factor of acceptance and are taking into consideration more students’ current situation is a great comfort.”


On May 21, 2020, the University of California Board of Regents approved the suspension of standardized test requirements for all Californian applicants until fall 2024. This allows them to create a new test related more to the university's content, which will efficiently prepare students for college, and address concerns about equitable treatment of all students regardless of whether they submit a test score. 

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