College and university admissions teams use unique formulas to determine if student candidates are the right fit for their schools. For many years, admissions officers paid considerable attention to applicants' performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and/or ACT. But things have begun to change, and standardized test scores may no longer carry as much weight as they once did.
Many students struggle with the pressure of college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. Students who may be high achievers in school may not perform well on standardized tests, or they may perform poorly because of the weight that such tests bear on their academic futures. College applicants may miss out on the opportunity to attend their preferred schools simply because of this one measure of academic prowess. However, many individuals and educators contend that these exams measure test-taking skills rather than academic ability and are therefore not necessarily strong indicators of academic performance.
Many schools have changed their approach to standardized tests and the role such tests play in the college admissions process. According to the admissions department of Harvard College, the SAT does not factor heavily into a student's application. And while other schools say a lot of their admitted students have high test scores, these scores are not the primary factor for consideration in the application process. In 2015, George Washington University announced it would no longer require applicants to take the SAT or ACT. As many as 800 four-year colleges and universities in the United States already do not require potential prospective students to take the tests, according to NPR. Schools hope test-free admissions criteria will now capture a more diverse pool of students.
Many attest that the most reliable predictors of college success are a high school student's grade point average and the rigor of the courses he or she takes. Still, the nonprofit College Board defends the importance of its SAT, offering that "overwhelming evidence shows that SAT scores and high school GPA in combination are the best predictors of college success."
Students preparing their college applications may rest easier knowing that SAT and ACT scores may no longer bear the same level of importance as they once did in the college admissions process.