Should Colleges Make SAT Scores Mandatory?

State High Student studies for the upcoming PSAT.

Ava Bechtel

State High Student studies for the upcoming PSAT.

Ava Bechtel, Staff Writer

Almost all juniors and seniors have experienced SATs finding a way into their calendars, adding more stress to their already busy schedules. However, because of the recent pandemic, many college admissions made SAT scores optional. This raises the question: should colleges make SAT scores mandatory?

Con: Students are Reduced to a Test Score

When SAT scores are optional, students can represent themselves by more than just a number; colleges won’t be able to just skim over a list and choose the applicants with the highest scores.

Junior Evie Zhang explains that if SATs are optional, a student’s value isn’t solely based on a test score.

“I think that SAT scores should be optional. When they are mandatory, it does turn into a system where a person is reduced to a test score,” she said. “[…] it helps students realize they should build more into their applications.” To do this, Zhang encourages students to include items that show off their strengths.

Senior Jessica Hunter also advocates for optional test scores. “Because colleges don’t know your score, they can’t put a value on you, so they look at all of their applicants on a more even plane. Everybody gets more of a chance to be recognized”.

Con: Benefits “Good Test Takers”

Although a student may know the material, their test performance could poorly represent their knowledge. With time just ticking by and faced with discouraging rows of bubbles, students might find it difficult to test at their full potential.

Senior Jessie Chen adds to the argument that SATs are geared toward those who are good test takers.

“Some people may just be good at answering and not necessarily know the actual information. They’re just good test takers,” Chen said. She points out that she and others like her struggle on taking timed, standardized tests, making it hard to do their best. 

Pro: College App Implications

While students may benefit from colleges making SATs optional, colleges may not.

“There are definitely situations where two students are so close, so similar that the applications are identical, that the easiest way for admissions to make the determination would be for the score on the SAT,” Zhang said.

Dr. Robert Novack of Penn State’s Sapphire program explained, “There’s got to be some way, when the college receives thousands and thousands of applications, there’s got to be some way to level a playing field down where you can look at everybody and compare them by a single number.”

Pro: Added Pressure on a “Good Resume” Without Testing

With the absence of SAT scores, there may be more pressure on a student to maintain a high GPA, participate in extracurriculars, and accumulate community service. Instead of stressing about one SAT, will students have to spend all of high school worrying about grades, clubs, and the number of service hours they have? 

Even though SATs might create momentary stress, they may be favorable next to the chronic stress of building a “good resume”.