Skipping standardized tests may limit college options

by John Musso
Standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT are laborious and unexciting, but they are a traditional element to the advancement of a student’s academic career.
However, as more and more colleges and universities are offering alternatives to the SAT or ACT, students wonder whether they should still take standardized tests.
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They should. At this time, showing good results on the SAT or ACT will increase students’ choices and opportunities for admittance to college.
Only 850 colleges in the U.S. are test-optional, and most of them are small liberal arts colleges, representing only a small number of college students. And even if students intend to apply to a test-optional school, it would still make sense to take the tests in case of complications.
“I still would recommend students should take it, just for the experience of it,” said guidance counselor Candice Kilmer, “Standardized tests don’t go away. If you want to go to graduate school, you have to take the GRE. If you want to go to business school you have to take the GMAT. You are going to have to take tests eventually.”
However, critics of the standardized tests, whose ranks include college admissions officers, present compelling reasons for decreasing colleges’ reliance on these tests, and eventually their voices could prevail.
“There are more test-optional schools now, and they focus on grades, extracurricular activities and course rigor, which can relieve some pressure,” said senior  Carol Smith.
Many people believe it is simply wrong to place so much emphasis on a single test that can be taken in a matter of hours, compared to the cumulative effort placed on schoolwork throughout a high school career.
“I think it’s unfair because it’s more about your test-taking abilities than your work ethic or grades,” said junior Megan Voorhees who nonetheless took the SAT.
Additionally, the high costs of standardized tests could put lower income students at a disadvantage. A student will pay $50 to take the SAT, $12 to $46 for each SAT subject test and $50.50 for the ACT (including the writing section).
“I feel like students from lower-income families are at a disadvantage and this can add pressure,” said senior Shaina Gordon.
Test-prep services and private tutors can also give wealthier students an advantage over lower-income students. Scotch Plains-based test-prep provider Ivy Educational Services charges $1,595 for its complete SAT or ACT prep package.
Standardized tests may seem like a long and arduous task, but they have stood the test of time for a reason. Four hours is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of getting into the best college or university possible.
If you have very good grades, are involved in many extracurricular activities, are a bad test taker, and intend to apply only to colleges that are test optional, then opting out of the SAT or ACT is something to really consider.
If not, go and buy some test-prep books and start studying.