In this article, we discuss the growing test-optional reasons. We talk about why the test-optional movement has so much momentum right now. We list the advantages to a school making the decision to drop the ACT and the SAT as requirements for admissions.
Reason 1: Students hate completing the ACT and the SAT. You may think, what does what the student like have to do with anything? Any time you require something that students hate, you are putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage.
Reason 2: Many colleges need more applications just to guarantee they will reach full enrollment and there is plenty of research to indicate that a school will get more applications if they no longer require these tests. Other schools may not need more applications but they want more applications to shape their class.
Reason 3: We now have 50 years of research to indicate that a college can drop its SAT and ACT requirement and still admit students who graduate at rates similar to the graduation rate of test-score submitters. Colleges can admit students who have similar grades to test-score submitters. Bowdoin dropped the ACT and SAT requirement in 1969 and they have substantial research validating that they can use other factors in the admission file to identify appropriate applicants. Bates, Wake Forest, and others have found they can select students without test scores and admit students with similar success in college to the test-score submitters.
Reason 4: The ACT and the SAT add an inordinate amount of anxiety and stress that is not only imprudent but is also unnecessary.
Reason 5: All the research indicates that these tests are highly correlated with parental incomes. The top test prep companies often cost a fortune. A great and compelling case can be made that colleges who rely on the ACT or the SAT are “advantaging the advantaged.”
Reason 6: A school can diversity its population by bringing in a wider swath of the American population. There are a number of major studies that show that when a college drops the requirement for test scores to be submitted, it opens up lower income and underrepresented students to new colleges that they had not previously considered. Most colleges see their environments as learning laboratories, and a diverse student brings a perspective that enhances the quality of the education of everyone around them.
Reason 7: It puts more focus on character in the evaluation process. Character will correlate very closely with grit. Character traits like grit, optimism, social intelligence, likeability, work ethic, and integrity will be valued when an admission officer cannot see a student through the prism of numbers.