A Cure for Test Anxiety
One Exam. Four Hours. The Rest of Your life.
If you’re anything like most people, you dread the power of the standardized test. After all, not only do most college admissions committees use S.A.T. and A.C.T. scores to siphon off candidates, but financial aid officers also often implement them to determine who will and will not receive merit scholarships. Even worse, these exams tend to exacerbate the uneven socioeconomic playing field. Some families hire tutors or pay for tailored test prep courses to improve their scores. Others rely on free online resources or books available at local libraries.
Although researchers disagree over the validity of using S.A.T. scores as a predictor of college success (compare Paul Sackett’s “The Role of Socioeconomic Status in S.A.T.-Grade Relationships and in College Admissions Decisions”
to James Crouse and Dale Trusheim’s The Case Against the S.A.T.) many colleges are starting to believe that standardized test scores should be taken out of the admissions equation. Enter the Test Optional School, one of over eight hundred four-year colleges that have decided to limit or completely eliminate the use of standardized test scores in the admissions process.
That’s right! You may not have to worry about having a bad day, not being able to hire a tutor, or simply being a bad test taker.
These colleges have realized that the rigor of a student’s high school curriculum, course selection and grades are better determinants of a student’s likelihood to achieve than standardized tests. They have also noted that the elimination of an S.A.T. or A.C.T. requirement encourages qualified minorities, first-generation, female, and low-income prospects to apply, which in turn, positively influences campus diversity.
A simple glance at the website of FairTest, a non-profit organization spearheading the effort to encourage schools to go Test Optional, shows that it’s not only regional universities that are making the change. National institutions, including some of the country’s most selective private schools and flagship state universities, have introduced such policies. A sampling of such schools includes: American University, Bard College, Julliard School, Mount Holyoke College, Sawanee – The University of the South, and the University of Arizona. And this is just a smattering of the opportunities that exist.
So if you are among the thousands of students who crave this cure for standardized test anxiety, just be sure to show each school how serious you are about your academics by emphasizing your strengths in the other parts of your applications. That way, they’ll not only see how you’ll contribute in the classroom, but out of it as well.