For decades, colleges and universities have relied heavily on the ACT or SAT to help them make their admissions decisions. For just as long, educators have argued that these tests don’t accurately reflect a student’s ability to be successful in college. Placing so much weight on a single standardized test has led students to ignore the activities that are indicators of future success, like enrolling in challenging classes, having a job, or engaging in experiential learning opportunities, so that they can spend a significant amount of time preparing for a test.

Because of the pandemic, most colleges in 2020 were forced to remove their testing requirements. This prompted the testing companies to implement some long-desired changes. The essays, arbitrary vocabulary sections, and point deductions for incorrect answers have been removed in favor of more reading and evidence-based questions, and options for taking the test remotely.

And many colleges have taken things a step further. Currently, there are nearly 1,600 colleges and universities that have announced that they will continue to make testing optional, and the entire University of California system has said that it will never again consider either the SAT or ACT as part of the application process.

What does this mean for current high school students who are planning on college? Colleges will really begin to value students who take initiative and make an impact. They want to students who:

  • take the most challenging classes at their high schools;
  • engage in something meaningful outside the classroom, including clubs, volunteering, internships, sports or jobs;
  • make a positive impact on their community: household, school, town or region.

While standardized testing will likely never go away completely, there is now more proof that other elements of the application hold more weight. Instead of spending countless hours studying for standardized exams, your time would be much better utilized by working to improve your grades and finding an area outside of school that you’re passionate about and can become more involved in.

With younger students, AcceptU works to develop academic interests and build a meaningful extracurricular profile, rather than prepare for a three-hour standardized exam.

About the author

Nate has an MS from SUNY/University at Albany and a BA from SUNY Geneseo. Nate was an admissions reader at University of California – Berkeley and Occidental College. Additionally, Nate has been a college counselor at both public and independent schools.

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