Test Optional: Ditch the SAT?

October 5, 2020

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Allyson Lounsbury

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The never-ending world of Covid-19 is now affecting seniors and possibly classes to follow. But is it for better or worse?

Covid-19 is affecting social aspects of this school year through remote learning, cancelation of sports and dances, and social distancing guidelines. But could it also be affecting the future of SAT’s and other standardized tests?

For example, in the past, test scores have been a crucial part of college applications and can make or break your acceptance. How do FCHS seniors feel about their test score submissions being optional this year?

Senior Lauren Davis, who is not planning on taking the SAT, said “I am so glad SAT is optional because I’m not a great test taker. So I felt like I wasn’t going to do great on it and that it would negatively affect my applications.”

As for senior Alex Valladares, she says “I’m taking the SAT in October, but most of the colleges I’m applying to are saying SAT scores are optional, so I feel like it’s a waste of time to take the test. But I wish more schools were taking SAT scores so they could have more to judge from.”

So what should seniors do, take the test or not? FCHS 2020 graduate Maddie Grubbs was asked whether or not she thinks her SAT score helped her with her applications, and what she recommends to current seniors debating the idea this year. “Personally, I believe the SAT tests are a waste of time, due to the fact that most colleges make the scores optional,” said Grubbs.

Grubbs also stated that “The SAT is one test that some colleges [use to] determine whether or not you will be accepted and I think that is unfair. A GPA consists of four years of tons of tests and hard work, while the SAT score consists of one test that takes up a couple hours to take and could determine the future for students.”

In contrast, former Charlottesville High School student Aidan Shaffrey says he thinks “the SAT is very beneficial, especially for those with a lower GPA.” FCHS junior Maggie McWilliams agrees. “I will most likely take the SAT and submit it because I’m not completely satisfied with my GPA.”

FCHS College Advisor Liz Wachter has this to say about the controversy: “At this point, there is a lot of uncertainty about the SAT, especially how it pertains to college applications. In Virginia specifically, many colleges and universities have gone test-optional in response to the recent SAT cancellations across the nation. This policy change is intended to help students and help reduce their stress around taking an SAT.”

However, Wachter admitted that “if a student feels safe in a testing environment, they should consider taking the SAT. Fluvanna County High is offering the SAT at our school on Oct. 14, and this test will only be open to FCHS seniors. If a senior wants to try the SAT, or just have the option of being able to send test scores in their applications, they may decide to take the test that day. In my opinion, it is best to have more options than less, whenever possible, so I do think taking the SAT is a good idea.”

Wachter added this advice: “If a student is unsure about taking the SAT due to personal circumstances, they should seek advice from myself, or their school counselor, on the matter. I am able and willing to help students think through this important decision, and the effects it may, or may not, have on their college applications.”

FCHS Testing Coordinator Angie Blevins, who is running the Oct. 14 test at FCHS, said “There is talk in the news of colleges making the SAT optional. I hear that about 60% of colleges are having replacement essays for SAT scores. I do not want to put our students in a position where they do not have an SAT score and then they do not get into college because other students did have SAT scores.”

According to the Washington Post, the experimentation with optional test score submissions could result in lasting changes for not only students, but the SAT as well. Dartmouth’s Dean of Admissions said he had an “open mind” to the idea of eradicating test score submissions in the future as well.

Whatever the future may hold, seniors will prepare the best they can.

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