If you are the parent of a homeschooled student who is a junior or senior in high school, you need to know that standardized college entrance exam requirements have changed substantially. This is true especially for athletes entering college in the fall of 2023.
Michael T. Nietzel, a former university president writing for Forbes.com reports that “More than 80% of four-year colleges won’t require standardized tests for fall 2023 admissions.” Many schools offered test-optional admissions in response to unprecedented conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The shift away from entrance testing has now become accepted policy across the U.S.
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) reports that “at least 1,835 U.S. colleges and universities are now employing either ACT/SAT-optional or test-blind/score-free policies.” (www.FairTest.org )
WHAT ARE THE SAT AND ACT EXAMS?
Sarah Wood, writing for U.S. News magazine, defined the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) as “a multiple-choice exam aimed at predicting ‘college readiness’ among high school students.” (The SAT is Changing: Here’s What to Know (usnews.com))
The SAT (along with the ACT, which stands for American College Testing) are both tests designed to measure a high school junior or senior’s college and career readiness. “Many colleges and universities,” continues Ms. Wood, “look at students’ scores in addition to their grades, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters and essays to determine admissions decisions.”
1.34 million students from the graduating class of 2022 took the ACT exam. 1.7 million students from the same graduating class took the SAT. The SAT is said to be a better indicator of college and career readiness and it is the SAT that is currently undergoing substantial changes to both its format and use.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
Overall, numerous schools have decided to lower their dependence on standardized testing scores in relation to the entire college admissions process. This trend started during the coronavirus pandemic when students routinely experienced multi-faceted barriers to test taking.
In addition, racial disparities in college admissions programs have been linked back to entrance testing outcomes. U.S. News reported that “For the class of 2020, nearly 60% of white students hit the college readiness benchmark in math, while less then one-quarter of Black students and one-third of Hispanic or Latino students did the same. (Brookings Institute: The SAT is Changing: Here’s What to Know (usnews.com).)
Here’s a sampling of related college and university decisions:
The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) no longer requires standardized test scores as proof of academic eligibility for student athletes entering college in 2023-24. However, the NCAA also points out that students might need to take at least the SAT for college admission, depending on which college or university they choose. Basically, it is left up to the discretion of the student whether or not to take the tests.
According to the NCAA’s website (https://www.ncaa.org), although the SAT and ACT scores factored along with a student’s GPA used to be the basis of determining academic eligibility for college sports, the NCAA will now determine academic status by the student’s GPA alone. In addition, student athletes must earn a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average each year in order to maintain their eligibility for participation in college sports.
Harvard College revised entrance testing requirements changed beginning with the class of 2022 when students could apply to Harvard without requiring standardized testing. Harvard now states that “consistent with Harvard’s whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are one factor among many considered.”
Yale College has extended its test-optional admissions policy for an additional year. All applicants for undergraduate admission for fall 2023 enrollment may apply with or without ACT or SAT scores. Applicants who have successfully completed one or more ACT or SAT exams should consider including scores, even if those scores are below the middle 50% range.
The American Bar Association (ABA) – A February 6, 2023 article by Karen Sloan of Reuters news, summarizes the ABA’s decision to keep the law school standardized test requirement.
“A bid to end the American Bar Association’s longstanding requirements that law schools use the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) or other standardized test in admissions has failed for a second time in six years. The ABA’s policy making body on Monday rejected a proposed change to its accreditation standards that would allow law schools to go ‘test optional’ in 2025, following more than an hour of debate at the organization’s midyear meeting in New Orleans.”
SAT FORMAT AND REQUIREMENTS OVERHAUL
Point Scale – The SAT will still be based on a 1600-point scale and will continue to test skills in Reading, Writing and Math.
Digital Format – The new SAT will be a digitally -based exam and will change the level of questions based on the level of the test-taker’s performance. This change will also increase testing security.
The new digital test cannot be done from a student’s home. Tests will still be administered in an approved and proctored testing center during the school day or over the weekend. The difference will be that students can now bring their own laptop (or tablet) to the testing center or use a device issued by their own school or borrow a device provided by the College Board.
Length of Test Day – The test day will be shortened. The actual length of the exam will now be two hours rather than three.
Exam Questions – Based on past complaints, the College Board has revised test questions to be more concise. Long reading passages will be replaced with shorter passages. Only one question will be attached to each reading selection, rather than the multiple questions previously included in the exam.
Use of Calculators – Currently, the SAT math section includes two parts. One non-calculator section and one calculator section. A calculator will now be allowed for the entire math section. A graphing calculator is needed to complete the exam. Students can bring their own graphing calculator or use the one that’s embedded in the exam.
Score Results – Students will no longer have to wait weeks to get their test results but will receive a score report from the digital tests in just a few days.
Despite a large increase in the number of colleges and universities that have eliminated standardized testing requirements, experts suggest that students take either the SAT or ACT.
Robert Franek, editor-in-chief at the Princeton Review writes that “If you take the SAT or ACT and are not pleased with your scores, then exercise your test-optional right to not submit them. But if they are valuable to you and they could be a differentiator in your college application, then submit them. If you never take the test, you’ll never be able to make that choice as you’re applying to college.”