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The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Standardized stereotype

The detrimental impact of colleges requiring applicants to submit ACT and SAT scores
graphic+by+Quinn+Burton
graphic by Quinn Burton

As the 2023 school year begins to come to a close, seniors are beginning the transition between high school and college. With approaching application deadlines and scholarship due dates, the overwhelming amount of work for seniors has begun to consume their lives. The college application process has long been a daunting hurdle for these students. One of the most contentious aspects of this process revolves around standardized testing, particularly the ACT and SAT. The requirement imposed by colleges to submit these scores has caused a detrimental impact on students.

Mandatory test score submissions create immense pressure on students. The weight placed on these scores often overshadows years of hard work, extracurricular achievements and personal growth. Anxiety and stress levels soar as students perceive these scores as defining their worth and potential future success. According to the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools between 40% and 60% of students have significant test anxiety that interferes with their performing up to their capability. This undue stress can lead to mental health issues and adversely impact their overall well-being.

It’s also essential to acknowledge the inherent biases embedded within standardized testing. These tests often favor students from privileged backgrounds, providing them with a distinct advantage. Factors like access to expensive test prep materials, tutoring and a supportive environment significantly influence scores. According to the Washington Post, “students from families earning more than $200,000 a year average a combined score of 1,714 on the SAT, while families earning under $20,000 a year average a combined score of 1,326.” So for many, these tests do not measure intellect or potential accurately but rather socioeconomic status.

Furthermore, the rigid reliance on standardized tests overlooks a student’s capabilities and potential. Many applicants possess unique talents, experiences, and qualities that cannot be encapsulated within a numerical score. Forcing students into a narrow assessment framework dismisses their creativity, resilience and diverse skill sets. According to the University of Chicago, “Grade Point Averages (GPA) are a five times stronger indicator of college success, because they measure a very wide variety of skills and behaviors that are needed for success in college, where students will encounter widely varying content and expectations. 

The financial burden associated with these tests is another critical concern. The costs of taking the ACT, SAT, prep courses, and sending scores to multiple colleges can be exorbitant, posing a barrier for students from low-income backgrounds. This perpetuates inequality in higher education, hindering access for deserving candidates solely due to financial constraints.

Colleges and universities must reassess their reliance on standardized testing in admissions. Implementing test-optional or test-flexible policies can foster a fairer and more inclusive evaluation process. By considering a broader spectrum of a student’s achievements and potential, institutions can better identify talented individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The mandatory submission of ACT and other standardized test scores in college applications perpetuates inequality, undermines student well-being, and fails to accurately represent their true abilities. It’s time for a transformative change in the admission process, one that values diversity, equity and individuality over standardized metrics.

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About the Contributor
Quinn Burton, Staff Reporter
Quinn is a senior and this is his third year on the CATalyst staff. As CATalyst editor-in-chief, Quinn has spent his time in Room 312 designing, editing and producing the latest edition of Millard West’s print paper. Aside from writing, editing broadcasts, and even dj-ing a radio station, Quinn likes to spend his time hanging out with friends, listening to music, and watching Disney princess movies.

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