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Colleges should not consider standardized tests in admissions


It has been highly debated whether universities should consider students’ standardized test scores in the admission process. Until covid, these tests were mostly required to be submitted when applying to a college, but since then, submitting scores has been optional. Colleges should not consider standardized tests in the admission processes because there are many biased factors incorporated into these test scores. 

These biased factors can include, but are not limited to, the environment, one’s mental stability, family life, race, or income. As these factors can play a big role in one’s test score, it can create an unfair method of determining whether someone should be accepted into a college or not.  

Standardized tests can be biased as the questions can be geared toward certain demographics or socioeconomic backgrounds. This factor has shown how students in lower-income families have performed worse on standardized tests. The New York Times conducted a study that showed a previously discussed factor, income. With this, it has been discovered that as parents’ income increases, so does a student’s test score. Economists from Opportunity Insights, which is based at Harvard, took students’ SAT/ACT scores from 2011, 2013, and 2015 and matched them to their parents’ federal income tax records. From this comparison, it was found that children from very rich families are overrepresented at elite colleges. As seen in the graph, the percentage of those who scored 1300 or higher on the SAT increased as the income group increased. This is shown to be a clear disadvantage for those less fortunate and should not be a clear indicator of whether or not they should be accepted into a university. 

Class differences have also provided a gap for extracurricular activities. Kids from higher-income families are more likely to be involved in extra programs than kids from lower-income families. Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2015 that included 1,807 U.S. parents who had children under the age of 18. In this survey, it was found that lower-income parents had a hard time finding affordable after-school programs and activities. These activities contribute to some students’ success on either the SAT or ACT. 

Children with more involved parents also have more one-on-one time to learn. Typically in lower-income families, the parents work more hours and are unable to always be present. They have to work these long, tedious hours to ensure that they have enough money to provide for their children. Without this one-on-one attention, these kids can be put at a disadvantage in standardized test taking. When kids are able to complete their homework with a parent present, they often learn more efficiently than younger children trying to complete their schoolwork on their own. 

In the lawsuit Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard University, it was investigated how white admits were primarily recruited athletes, those on the dean’s list of interest, legacies, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Of those who were white admits, 43% were ALDCs and in their model of admissions showed that three-fourths of these white ALDCs would have been rejected if they were treated as typical white applicants. 

According to Big Think, some argue that including standardized test scores is a good indicator because, on top of this, they consider a variety of factors. They look at high school performance, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and extracurricular activities. Colleges like to get a well-rounded picture of each applicant, so considering all of these factors allows them to see someone’s sense of identity. Without using these scores, universities have had a hard time distinguishing which applicants to accept when they have no indicator of academic high school performance besides one GPA. 

Although this can be a valid argument, colleges primarily focus on scores above all other factors. They should be able to get a developed idea of who someone is based on these other factors. A bad test score can just hinder one’s application when they may fit all other qualities. 

To conclude, standardized tests should not be considered in the admission process because they do not promote the most effective or fair method. These tests favor different backgrounds and are not an accurate indicator if one will do well in college. There are many other factors that should be taken into account over standardized test scores. 


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