Colleges abandoning standardized test scores is a good thing
Many colleges including the University have currently decided to make standardized test scores optional in the application process. While some people are upset by this and feel like colleges are dropping their standards, this is a step in making college more accessible for all.
It’s important to know the origins of the SAT, one of the two main standardized tests that colleges use for applications. Carl Brigham created a college admissions test based on an IQ test given to army recruits created by Robert Yerkes. The SAT later became used by Harvard to see who they should give scholarships to and then soon it became a test all colleges used.
This all seems pretty clean but unfortunately the SAT does have racist aspects. Research shows that students of color tend to have lower scores from standardized tests. This is because standardized testing has eugenicist beginnings. Carl Brigham believed that testing would show that white people were inherently superior. He was afraid of people of color going to school with white people.
The thing is, the tests are not unbiased. They were written by white men with the purpose of failing people of color. The military test that the SAT came from was used to segregate soldiers. The tests are also not in favor of those who are English second language students and people with disabilities. There is also a correlation between high test scores and high property values.
People who live in expensive homes can usually afford tutors, private college counselors, SAT prep courses and more. These things add up but can tremendously help students get better scores. Even practice SAT booklets can be a lot of money that some people just don’t have. It’s also important to note that high property valued areas tend to be mostly white, hence the disparity in race in test scores.
In fact, some colleges like the University of Texas decided to have a test score cut-off with the purpose of keeping out Black students. Before this, UT had an open admissions policy for white students. They changed in order to be racist.
There’s also the fact that many people get test anxiety, causing them to test badly just because they’re nervous about the environment they’re in. They could have good grades but bad test scores. Of course, a lot of people may have bad grades and good test scores so they want to show that off in their application which is perfectly understandable.
This is why it’s great that right now the University is making test scores optional on their applications. This allows students to use their best judgement as to what will make them look best on their applications. It’s understandable if places like Stanford or Harvard want to keep using them. But they also have a lot of application requirements that many other schools don’t require, like interviews.
With the problematic history and reality behind standardized test scores, its great UH will not force students to list their standardized test scores.
Anna Baker is an English senior who can be reached at [email protected]