Con: Unreliability clouds predictability

Among the class of 2020, nearly 2.2 million students took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) at least once. For that year alone, almost 33 million hours were spent preparing for the infamous test taken strictly for college admissions, according to Kaplan.

Studying for standardized tests as well as high school classes, clubs, extracurricular activities and college applications has become the standard for college-driven students, but is this exam, surrounded by cheating, invalidity, bias and outdatedness, still an appropriate factor in college admissions? Standardized test scores should no longer be used as a factor in college admissions because such tests put equity and integrity at stake.

Standardized tests, such as the SAT and American College Testing (ACT) are not equitable enough to be used to determine an applicant’s status of admission. According to a 2015 analysis from the Insider High Ed, the lowest SAT scores came from students belonging to families that have an annual income less than $20,000. On the other hand, the highest average test scores came from students belonging to families that have an annual income higher than $200,000. What causes this disparity? Affordability. Standardized test-prep programs’ high costs cater to students from higher socio-economic classes, so why are these tests labeled as “standardized” when they are anything but? Professional advice is not cheap, and the more hours spent with a tutor, the higher a student tends to score. In order to even the playing field in admissions, colleges should abolish “standardized” tests for good.

Cheating is inevitable, and it has more of an impact than many may think. According to College Reality Check, it is estimated that around 2,000 students cheat on the SAT test each year. While this number may seem low out of the millions of test takers, it is far greater than it should be. In terms of a college’s incoming class of students, many top universities admit around 3,000 to 10,000 students. Compared to the number of annual cheaters, a college can come close to filling their entire incoming class with students who practiced academic dishonesty on their admissions test and lied about their true score. Why are colleges still rewarding dishonest students with an admissions letter? It is time to push back the unethical admissions skew and return to awarding integrity, not deceit.

Many claim that colleges should continue using standardized tests as a factor in college admissions because they predict college performance. While this statement may be partially true, data has shown that other components of applicant’s applications serve as a stronger predictor of success. According to a University of Chicago Consortium study, an applicant’s high-school grade point average (GPA) is five times more accurate in predicting whether or not they will graduate college than an applicant’s ACT score. In response to these discoveries, colleges around the country have started to shift towards a more holistic view, where admissions officers take the weight either entirely off of standardized tests or shift the weight onto other components. In addition, according to Crimson Education, regarding the upcoming 2021-2022 admission cycle, there are over 900 test-optional colleges in America. Not only that, the University of California system officially went test-blind in 2019 and has stayed this way since. It is time for the remaining colleges to follow the current trend towards reliability.

Colleges across the nation have identified the weaknesses involved in standardized testing, including the lack of equity, unreliability and cheating. Many have made the switch from requiring such tests to either giving applicants the option to test or not accepting scores. It is time to abolish the use of standardized testing in college admissions to even the playing field for qualified applicants once and for all.