A new reality for entrance exams


Patrick Verayo

Maia Driz-Diaz ‘22 preps for an AP Biology exam. Driz-Diaz sees more value in AP tests than she does in the SAT or the ACT.

Because of the pandemic, testing has changed for high schoolers applying to college. Colleges have changed their standardized testing requirements, which had been in place for years. Many schools either no longer require applicants to take standardized tests or have made taking standardized tests optional. With the rules changing, many high school students have taken the opportunity to reflect on their thoughts about testing. 

Faith Blea ‘22 will most likely take the ACT or SAT but is also waiting to hear what her college counselor advises her to do. Blea reveals that even though she is a good test-taker, she likes that colleges are going test-optional. 

“I like the aspect of [colleges] paying more attention to me, my application and my essay, rather than just my standardized test scores,” Blea said. “I put a lot of work into the classes I take and the extracurriculars I do versus taking a standardized test, which doesn’t say a lot about who I am as a person.”

Like Blea, Maia Driz-Diaz ‘22 is not especially attached to standardized testing.

“It’s one test out of your whole year. That’s why I like AP tests because you can spend the whole year learning that curriculum. But with the SAT, you have to relearn everything on your own,” Driz-Diaz said. 

Sophia Rivera ‘22 feels that standardized tests do not encompass a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses.

“I don’t think [standardized tests] are a good way to measure abilities because some people do better with short-answer tests and other people do better with multiple-choice tests,” Rivera said.

Angelina Reddy ‘21 agrees that standardized tests do not do a good job of taking a comprehensive approach towards assessing the complete student. 

“Standardized testing puts you in a box. You have to conform to the testing company’s way of thinking and have to know what they want to see. It’s all about what the test and the companies want, in my opinion,” Reddy said.

Studying for one test that incorporates many different topics can be difficult. Isabella Durand ‘21 believes that being able to get a good grade on the SAT or ACT has a lot to do with access to help, which not everyone has.

“I definitely have always seen being able to study for the test as a point of privilege because not everyone has access to tutors. I was privileged enough to have a tutor and have my parents pay for additional resources, which not everyone has,” Durand said.

With some colleges going test-optional and some even test blind, the new reality of these exams leaves many wondering if taking a test will give students an advantage over those who cannot take the exams. 

“I don’t think that any college will pay more or less attention to an application if they don’t take a standardized test. At least I hope not because it would give privilege to the kids that weren’t able to take either test. I hope that they don’t look at anyone differently and mainly look at grades from the school year and resumes,” Driz-Diaz said.