Art by Samantha Miller
Nationwide university SAT requirements are discriminatory at their core, because they separate the privileged from the marginalized — and always have.
As of the 2022 admissions cycle, more than 1,815 — or 80% — of colleges dropped the SAT and ACT requirement, according to FairTest.org. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, universities made standardized tests optional, and 1,400 have extended that policy until 2023 after in-person testing resumed.
The SAT and ACT requirement lessens the chances of students coming from a lower socioeconomic status getting into college due to low scores. A Princeton University study showed that schools dropping the SAT or ACT requirement not only increased grade-point averages for high school students, but it also resulted in more diversity in new admits.
Wealthier families are able to send their children to college-prep schools and pay for extra tutoring throughout the K-12 years, according to the Latin American Post. Students attending private schools demonstrated higher SAT scores than those who attended public schools overall.
MarketWatch reported that private standardized-testing tutoring companies also create an unfair advantage for students whose parents have higher income.
The average hourly SAT tutoring rate is $70 to $100, according to Tutors.com. Many students study several hours beyond — with a tutor — raking the cost and their scores up even more, according to MarketWatch.
Without the means, those with a lower family income are automatically at a disadvantage. In fact, $250 million of the tutoring industry comes from SAT tutoring alone, according to Tower, the Masters School.
Annual College Board statistics show students with parents who make over $200,000 a year see scores approximately 388 points higher than those making $20,000 per year. If a child’s future is dependent on their parents’ income and their college acceptance essentially depends on income, how are children from low-income households expected to be successful in their adulthood?
The issue with test-optional schools is they will still consider a score if submitted. This means if a student has access to resources to help them do very well on their SAT or ACT, they will benefit from it while others who do not have those resources are left behind.
Test-optional universities are not doing enough — the standardized testing requirement must end.
Those who are unable to pay anything extra to assist them in studying for standardized tests will benefit greatly from the abolition of the requirement.
Statistically, Brookings.edu reported that people of color score lower on the College Board’s SAT college readiness scale on both reading and writing and math. For example, only 7% of those scoring higher than 600 out of 800 are Black, but 31% are white.
Evidently, there is a racial and socioeconomic gap in college preparedness solely due to the SAT and ACT requirements or test-optional shift. If these exams ended completely, the playing ground would be one step closer to being even.
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Email Liza Esquibias: firstname.lastname@example.org