The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

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The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

The Student News Site of Great Neck North High School

Guide Post

Required Standardized Tests Make a Comeback

On Feb. 5, 2024, Dartmouth College reinstated its SAT requirements for applicants from the class of 2025. Six days later, Yale University followed suit.

Dartmouth’s turnaround decision to reinstate its SAT requirements for applicants follows a study conducted by three Dartmouth economists and a sociologist, as per the instructions of Dartmouth President Sian Beilock.

Dartmouth President Sian Beilock was also president of Barnard College in New York City (Credit: The New York Times).

In this study, students who withheld their test scores had their SAT scores analyzed by the researchers. This information was then compared to the academic profiles of these students, and the researchers found that low-income students were especially disadvantaged because of Dartmouth’s test-optional policy. The students thought their scores were too low, but the admissions office would have seen them as evidence that the students could succeed at Dartmouth after overcoming a challenging environment.

“Our business is looking at data and research and understanding the implications it has,” Beilock stated in an interview with the New York Times. “We’re looking for the kids who are excelling in their environment. We know society is unequal.”

In 2020, as a response to the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities across the United States reevaluated their admissions criteria, and many opted to eliminate the SAT requirement for prospective students. This move comes as educational institutions seek to promote fairness and equity in the admissions process, acknowledging the disruptions caused by the global health crisis.

The SAT, long considered a standard measure of college readiness, has faced mounting criticism in recent years for its perceived bias and inequity. Critics argue that standardized tests often reflect socioeconomic privilege rather than academic ability, placing students from underprivileged backgrounds at a disadvantage. The pandemic has further highlighted these disparities, exacerbating existing inequalities in access to education and resources.

The SAT and ACT are two popular standardized tests accepted by colleges (Credit: OnToCollege).

Recognizing the challenges faced by students during these unprecedented times, colleges and universities were increasingly moving towards a more holistic approach to admissions, placing greater emphasis on factors such as extracurricular activities, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. By eliminating the SAT requirement, institutions hoped to attract a more diverse pool of applicants and create a more inclusive learning environment.

In a surprising turn of events, some colleges and universities have begun to reevaluate their decision to eliminate the SAT requirement and have opted to reintroduce the test as a component of their admissions process. This decision comes amid ongoing debates within the academic community about the efficacy and fairness of standardized testing, as well as concerns about the impact of test-optional policies on admissions standards.

For these institutions, the decision to reintroduce the SAT reflects a desire to maintain consistency and rigor in the admissions process, as well as a belief in the predictive value of standardized testing for academic success. Despite criticisms of the SAT’s bias and inequity, proponents argue that standardized tests provide valuable insights into students’ abilities and serve as a useful tool for evaluating applicants across diverse backgrounds.

Additionally, some colleges and universities have cited the need for standardized testing to help assess students’ academic preparedness, particularly in light of disruptions caused by the pandemic. With many high schools transitioning to remote or hybrid learning models, educators and admissions officers alike have expressed concerns about the potential impact on students’ academic performance and readiness for college-level coursework.

The reintroduction of the SAT also reflects broader trends in higher education, including a growing emphasis on data-driven decision-making and accountability. For colleges and universities seeking to improve retention and graduation rates, standardized testing can provide valuable insights into students’ likelihood of success and help identify areas where additional support may be needed.

However, the decision to reintroduce the SAT has sparked renewed controversy and debate, with critics arguing that standardized testing perpetuates inequality and disadvantages students from underprivileged backgrounds. Opponents of the SAT point to research showing significant disparities in test scores based on factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, highlighting the need for more equitable admissions practices.

Students at North High also have conflicting opinions about the SAT’s comeback. Juniors especially have been very vocal about this new policy, causing many students to scramble to begin studying for SATs and ACTs.

“I believe that standardized tests are not a great way to measure a student’s academic capabilities. For example, the SAT only tests a small portion of reading comprehension, grammar and math. Students who excel in other subjects, such as social studies or science, are at a great disadvantage with the SAT,” junior Matt Ghodsi said. “Also, as a junior, I receive a tremendous amount of work from school, and I participate in other extracurricular activities. Now that colleges are reinstating the standardized test mandate, a big chunk of my time that could be going to my actual school work or extracurricular activities has to be taken up by standardized test studying and test taking.”

Similarly, junior Michael Leung said, “A lot of people are not the best test-takers— they get jittery and anxious, which really hurts their test-taking performance.”

Conversely, other students believe that the benefits of mandated standardized tests outweigh the disadvantages.

“Dartmouth’s decision to reinstate SAT requirements will definitely help low-income students, and will hopefully help not only Dartmouth applicants but all college applicants,” junior Jeremy Shiu said. “Low income students also deserve an equal playing field.”

Furthermore, the reintroduction of the SAT raises questions about the fairness of the admissions process and the extent to which standardized testing accurately reflects students’ abilities and potential. As colleges and universities grapple with these complex issues, they must balance the desire for academic excellence with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In light of these debates, many colleges and universities are opting to retain test-optional admissions policies, allowing students to choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores as part of their applications. This approach acknowledges the limitations of standardized testing while also recognizing its potential value as one of many factors considered in the admissions process.

Ultimately, the decision to reintroduce the SAT highlights the ongoing challenges and complexities inherent in the college admissions process. As educational institutions continue to adapt to the evolving landscape of higher education, they must strive to create admissions policies that are fair, transparent, and inclusive, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to pursue their educational aspirations.

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About the Contributor
Ashley Dong
Ashley Dong, Associate Editor
Ashley Dong is one of Guide Post’s associate editors. She is the president of the junior class and loves public speaking. She is also the captain of her club volleyball team and enjoys cooking, baking, reading the New York Times and eating mangoes.

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