California judge’s ruling could spell the end of college admissions tests such as the SAT and ACT


The SAT, ACT and other standardized tests may be on their way to extinction due to the Coronavirus pandemic and other events that indicate that college admissions can still occur without these cumbersome, extensive, stress-inducing tests which have been labeled unfair for a multitude of reasons. 

These tests are designed to measure a potential college applicant’s academic skills, ability to retain information, and prove what they have learned since grade school. However, these tests are becoming extremely outdated and easier to cheat on.

Since the SAT tests math, reading and writing, one might assume it should be a reliable method to assess how a student’s education benefited them as it tests the major subjects that are taught in school. However, Olympic Heights junior Emma Fishman disagreed by stating, “We should be judged on our overall performance in school instead of having to take one test that determines it.” Many students agree that one test should not represent twelve years of school.

However, in order to gain an unfair advantage, some students have been getting notes from physicians saying they need extra time for the SAT. This is unfair to students who do not get extra time and to students who actually need extra time. A mother of a high school junior told the New York Post, that her daughter is “coming up against all of these kids who bought extra time from a doctor’s note. It’s outrageous and it’s rampant.” In 2003, College Board, which oversees the SAT, and other testing companies stopped alerting colleges to students who had extra time, which opened the door for such abuse. Not only does this destroy the equal playing field, but it is a horrible form of cheating, and led to a lawsuit in California.

 A California judge recently ruled that the University of California System can no longer use SAT and ACT scores as means of determining admissions. The ruling also stated that the universities cannot give first consideration to students who chose to submit scores. 

“While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test are ‘almost nil,” Brad Seligman, the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the injunction, said according to The judge’s words show that the SAT and ACT should be given under fair circumstances, but today’s challenges with COVID-19 make these tests unfair to students. Being that the University of California System is the largest in the country, this ruling will most likely have nationwide impact. The University of California System issued a statement disagreeing with the judge. 

I think it has always been the case that where one leads, others will follow. I do not think anyone can comment as to whether or not it is the ‘right’ move, as it only just happened,” OH OAPA Coordinator Ms. Kelly Lawrence mentioned when referring to the recent California ruling. Lawrence said that making these tests optional has been becoming more common as time passes, but she also thinks it could just be a trend, and all trends come to an end at some point in time. Although the process of test optional has been expedited by the Coronavirus, it is impossible to know if it will stay or go.

Many students believe that the SAT is pointless as students must study for hours, take the test multiple times, and invest a considerable sum of money. Aborbridge is an online tutoring service that “offers a 60-hour test preparation package for about $9,000. That’s more than the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at a four-year public university, which reached about $8,700 last year, according to College Board.” according to The New York Times

OH junior Jillian Paulino thinks “ that if colleges use different tests they can get a different and in some cases, better understanding of the student.” Paulino thinks testing other subjects and phrasing questions in a less complicated way will be better suited for some students, especially those with special needs.

Students around the country describe the SAT as a test that only teaches them how to master the SAT itself. These students also believe that college admissions should rely more heavily on a student’s GPA, class rank, and admission essays. Also, students believe that the Coronavirus has killed these tests because the class of 2020 was admitted and were not required to give SAT or ACT score results to some schools.

“Colleges will look more at your extracurriculars, classes, and grades.” said OH sophomore Mia Campagna. She believes that this will lead to a more level playing field and will help students who feel that they were overlooked because their SAT or ACT score was not high enough to be admitted. Undoubtedly, the move away from the standardized tests as a major determining factor in college admissions will benefit students that have special needs and students who are poor test-takers.

Since the SAT and ACT are considered the first college admissions test, and may be on their way out, it could be possible that similar tests will also begin to fade out over time, quite possibly including those administered for high school graduation.