The Uncertain Future of SAT and ACT Testing

Katie Beebe, Staff Writer

In the past, most high school students have depended on standardized test scores as a factor in their acceptance to college. The pandemic has disrupted the ability to test, leaving students to change their plans. 

Throughout the spring and summer months, several SAT and ACT tests were cancelled. The cancellation of tests caused many schools to implement either a test optional, test flexible, or test blind policy in their admissions process. The varying policy options for different schools may be confusing. 

Test optional means students are not required to submit any scores when they apply. Other parts of a student’s application become the most important factor. Test flexible means students may submit other standardized test scores, such as AP scores. Test blind schools will not look at scores whatsoever.  

These policies become controversial when students are required to submit test scores for merit-based aid. Students may get accepted to college, but miss out on other things because of an absent test score.

After all the changes to policies, the SAT and ACT continue to remain relevant. While the majority of colleges have declared some sort of relaxed test policy, students are still signing up to take these tests. The only way to stop students from taking these tests would be to completely eliminate standardized testing from the admissions process.  

Colleges may not return to their pre-pandemic testing policy for years. Several colleges have put their new test policy in place only for this year, while some intend to maintain their test policy for up to three years.  

While some colleges plan to keep standardized testing in some aspects, others are transitioning to completely eliminating the SAT and ACT as a factor in admission. It may be because of the role opportunity and external factors play in the outcome of scores.  

Before the pandemic, the validity of SAT and ACT tests were already coming into question. Reason being is that standardized tests have been shown to not accurately display a student’s academic success. There are many reasons why the tests may be inaccurate. Some students have access to more test prep resources than others, cannot afford to retest several times, or suffer from test anxiety. 

Students have varying unequal access to resources that may help them get better scores. Test prep resources could include tutors, costly preparation classes, and technology. Without internet or technology at home, many students cannot access free test prep resources that are online.  

At some schools, students are provided with the opportunity to take it for free. Not all students are given the opportunity to take it for free at school though. 

A student can take a test once and be unsatisfied with his or her score. Additional testing costs money. As of now, the SAT costs $50. Cost can be a barrier to students who desire to take it again in order to secure a better score. 

Test anxiety is another obstacle students may face when trying to get an acceptable score on the SAT. Test anxiety reduces an individual’s ability to test. Students become anxious from the pressure they feel at the time of testing. They may know the correct answer, but cannot think logically because they are under extreme distress.   

The pandemic has given colleges more reason to eliminate requiring scores for admission. While the tests continue to remain moderately important, SAT and ACT tests are not guaranteed to exist in the future.