Colleges Going Test Optional Eases Students’ Stress


Photo by Sailor Ciluzzi

Due to Covid-19 many colleges have gone test optional as a result of cancellations.

Sailor Ciluzzi, Staff Writer

Many seniors signed up to take the SAT and ACT several times since last March only to find out the test date was canceled or their college was no longer requiring them due to COVID-19. 

Senior Emma Yalmokas said she registered to take the SAT twice and they were both canceled. 

“Since a lot of schools did not require test scores, the college process was a little easier,” she said.

Yalmokas, who plans to attend Colby-Sawyer, had a lot of anxiety not only about what her test scores would be but also if she’d have the chance to take the test. “It definitely took some stress off of the application process when colleges announced test scores weren’t required,” said Yalomkas. “I don’t think that my test score would have been reflective of the student that I am.” 

BHS guidance counselor Shawn Kingman agrees with Yalmokas and said, “The SAT and ACT are just a small piece to the larger puzzle of showing a student’s true learning abilities.”

Kingman said he believes that colleges shifting to test-optional for this admissions cycle alleviated a great deal of stress for students and made the application process much easier. 

“For this application season, students could focus entirely on grades and their applications, and not worry about standardized testing,” said Kingman. 

“If colleges continue to remain test-optional or do away with standardized testing entirely, it is my opinion that students that typically struggle with standardized testing, but challenge themselves academically and perform well in their studies throughout their high school career, will ultimately have better chances of getting into more competitive colleges in the long-run,” said Kingman.  

Senior Rachael Holzman said the college application process is stressful and requires a lot of work, but not having to take the SAT or ACT did make a difference. 

Holzman was accepted into several colleges with her personal essay and good grades without sending test scores.

Holzman said she thinks the college process was most likely easier for her than it was for graduates of previous years, like BHS 2020 graduate and class president Olivia Monteiro. 

“COVID hit in March and most if not all seniors had already taken the SATs so I don’t think that it was unfair that we had to submit our scores because it is a normal requirement for most schools,” said Monteiro. 

Monteiro, who is now taking classes at Cape Cod Community College, said she doesn’t think the class of 2021 has it easier than her former classmates regarding the college process. “There is less guidance nowadays with not being in the school building every day of the week which puts more stress on seniors applying to colleges,” said Monteiro. 

Although Monteiro said she believes that the SAT and ACT requirements being lifted for some programs may allow for more people to be accepted into harder programs this year. “I know when applying to a nursing program you would have to submit SAT scores but since that requirement was changed this year, I think more people are getting into nursing school,” said Monteiro. 

From Monteiro’s experience with the college process, she said she believes that she would have gotten into more schools if she didn’t have to submit her SAT and ACT scores. “Some students don’t test well, and I am one of those people,” said Monteiro. 

“SATs don’t determine how well people could perform academically in a college setting,”

— Olivia Monteiro

“SATs don’t determine how well people could perform academically in a college setting,” said Monteiro.   

Some of the most highly esteemed schools in the nation recently announced that will remain test-optional beyond the 2021 academic school year. These schools include American University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, Colombia, and Harvard. 

The CollegeBoard has completely eliminated the essay for the SAT and subjective tests. Financial advisor John Butler, who runs College Planning Cape Cod, thinks this will be a trend moving forward. 

“There is some thinking colleges might create their own exams instead of applicants submitting SAT and ACT scores,” he said. 

“Colleges are having a difficult time from looking at just the candidate’s GPA, transcript, or resume. A GPA is great but the test scores are a way for schools to get another means of measuring students and comparing students, maybe it’s fair, maybe it’s not,” said Butler.

He noticed more students applying to more challenging schools than they traditionally would have. Butler said a lot of students are including Ivy league schools in their applications.

“Colleges generally seem to be lenient and accept more numbers of students than [they] normally would’ve, because in some cases the application pool is shrinking and there is a lot of uncertainty if students decide to take a gap year,” he said.