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Students Are More Than Their Test Scores: Standardized Tests Shouldn’t Weigh So Heavily

Tests can be stressful and unpredictable, especially if the stakes are high. While standardized tests have tortured most U.S. students since grade school, exams such as the SAT, GRE, MCAT, and LSAT often strike fear in older students because of how large a role they can play in their futures. Plus, they can also be hard to prepare for because, unlike most class tests, the subject matter is often difficult to predict.

At UT, admissions officials don’t look at just test scores — they consider GPA as well because they understand test-taking anxiety affects some students, said Bruce Benner, UT’s director of enrollment management. UT however, is not the only school doesn’t solely use test scores when it comes to the admission progress. In fact, My College Options lists 105 schools on their website which do not require SAT or ACT scores at all.

Standardized tests should not carry the most weight for prospective colleges when evaluating students. |

Standardized tests should not carry the most weight for prospective colleges when evaluating students. |

A holistic look at both standardized test scores and GPA can “provide a window to the student’s academic prowess,” Benner said. For example, a low GPA but high test scores can indicate a student is undisciplined in academics. Test scores can also help better evaluate homeschooled students, whose GPAs can sometimes be inflated, Benner said.

It is essential for universities to look at students from a holistic angle because they would get a much more accurate idea of who they are accepting or rejecting. I think the types of courses that students excelled in should also be something that admissions officers take into consideration. This way, if the student was applying to a particular program at a university, admissions would be able to see whether or not they did well in specific aspects of high school that would prepare them for the program. This could open a lot more doors for many people

“Too many universities overemphasize test scores and do not take a holistic approach … research has demonstrated standardized test scores plus high school GPA is the best predictor of student success in college,” Benner said.

It is upsetting that other universities don’t take the holistic approach. Placing importance solely on standardized test scores not only denies many students opportunities, but disregards four years of hard work.

On top of the stress and the potential for excluding some students from some universities, the monetary cost of standardized tests is ridiculous. states that each SAT testing session costs $52.50 and the ACT costs $35. Applicants and their families also pay about $125 per SAT/ACT tutoring session as well as about $75 per college application. During my application process, I applied to about 12 colleges, took the SAT twice, and the ACT once. Although I didn’t take any test prep courses, my parents still paid upwards of $1,000 before I was even accepted to a university, where they would then need to pay for housing deposits and all of the other necessary college fees. I feel as though colleges should reduce the application prices or standardized testing requirements in order to lessen the monetary burden on families.

“The test and test prep class industry needlessly sap money from families, and in my opinion, waste valuable economic resources,” Benner said. “Test score and economic stats are positively correlated, which indicates socioeconomic bias.”

It’s sad to think there’s bias in college admissions. Students should be admitted to the perfect colleges for them based on their skills and knowledge. Standardized testing doesn’t fully reflect those factors, because the testing rooms are completely different environments from college classrooms.


Liz Rockett can be reached at


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