Standardized Testing in Nonstandard times

Students across the nation are asked to do one simple task: summarize their academic background through bubbles. Rows and rows of bubbles. If you shade in the right ones, you will have a bright future ahead of you. If you shade in the wrong ones, the numbers won’t help your case.

In the competition for college, the SAT has been a strong factor in deciding who gets admission and who doesn’t. But as COVID-19 has interrupted the usual flow of the school year, some seniors are deciding to not participate. 

  “I decided to not take the test because many of the colleges I am applying for are either [test] optional or not requiring it at all,” senior Austi Jenkins said. “If I don’t have to take it then I don’t want to.”

On the other hand, some students believe taking the test this year has too many benefits to pass up.

“I expect to take the SAT, ” senior Jack Guiley said. “If you get a great score, there is still scholarship money attached for some of these schools. Even though it wasn’t required, I still wanted to take it.”

Because some colleges have dropped SAT scores as a requirement for admission this year, the question of whether these scores should be used in general has been up for debate.

“The score that one receives on the test doesn’t completely show what they know [or] how good of a student they are,” Jenkins said. “There were many schools that had begun to be test optional before the pandemic. This all just caused a rise in that number because of the conditions we are currently under.”

Some students believe that the nature of standardized testing limits the SAT’s accuracy.

“I don’t believe standardized tests like this reflect a student holistically because it would be very difficult to do so in a four hour time constraint,” Guiley said. 

Whether or not students decide to take the SAT will come down to each individual’s plans and preferences, but the unique conditions of this year have opened an area for conversation about the future of standardized testing and where it belongs in education.