Remember how important the SATs were as a kid? It was almost like your entire future - and certainly your chances of getting into college - revolved around the standardized test.
But today, the test doesn't hold the clamor and clout that it once did. In fact, during 2020, only 44% of high schoolers submitted SAT or ACT exams with their college application, down from 77% the year prior, according to Bloomberg. A Kaplan survey of 400 college admissions officers found that only 9% were requiring standardized tests this year.
Schools are suspending requiring the testing because of the pandemic - and while students love it, some counselors worry it could "add to growing inequality" in higher education.
This worry is a product of wealthier kids being able to "game" the other requirements looked at while applying to school. As we saw firsthand from the college admissions scandal, wealthy students can often give the appearance of being involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities when, in fact, they may not be doing all, or any, of them.
17 year old Ayah Fakhy, the daughter of Moroccan immigrants in Los Angeles, says she is now worried she'll be at a disadvantage without the standardized test. She said: "It frightened me. I knew I'd have to make the other parts of the application stand out."
Bob Sweeney, who works with a Brooklyn college access program that each year helps about 20 senior girls, agreed: "They're at a disadvantage if there isn't someone who can advocate for them."
But like with everything else, testing critics are working to get the SATs "cancelled" anyway. They claim the tests are biased against "poor students and members of underrepresented minority groups" and that doing away with them will "improve race, gender and income diversity".
"It's remarkable how many schools found the experience good enough to say 'Let's do it again,'" said Bob Schaeffer, who is director of FairTest, which has pushed to eliminate the SAT/ACT requirement.
Zach Goldberg, a spokesman for the College Board, which administers the SAT, argued against Scaeffer, saying the absence of common, objective indicators, will increase grades, which wealthy schools are more likely to inflate.
There's a divide between those who still choose to send in their scores, the report notes:
Forty-nine percent of students whose parents earned at least a bachelor's degree provided test results, compared with 79% the previous year. Among those families who reported that neither of their parents earned at least a bachelor's degree, only 31% sent scores, down from 71%. Wealthier students were also more likely to submit results, as were White and Asian students.
17 year old Shawn Babitsky, the son of a single mother who works as a nurse's aide and an Uber driver, was upset he couldn't send his test scores after his sessions were cancelled 4 times: "No one told me to start thinking about the SAT sophomore year. If I had, then maybe I could have had a test score. I wish I had been able to submit test scores."
He aims to study molecular biology.