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Sidelining The SAT: What Going Test Blind Means For You

Doesn’t waking up at 7 A.M., driving to a nearby high school, and standing in a long line to take a five hour test with the power to decide your future sound exhausting and nerve wracking? Just reading that sentence may have made you anxious. Well, I have some good news for you seniors. The […]

Doesn’t waking up at 7 A.M., driving to a nearby high school, and standing in a long line to take a five hour test with the power to decide your future sound exhausting and nerve wracking? Just reading that sentence may have made you anxious. Well, I have some good news for you seniors. The University of California and California State University systems have suspended SAT/ACT scores for their fall 2022 admissions cycle.

But don’t get too excited. Other factors such as grades, strength of curriculum, essays, and extracurricular activities will hold greater weight than they have in the past. So the question remains: is the test blind policy actually beneficial to applicants?

Standardized tests are suspended for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. This suspension will also allow the UCs and CSUs to create a new test that better aligns with the content universities expect students to have mastered for college readiness. 

CB College Counselor Mrs. April Melarkey is a proponent of the test blind policy. “Nobody can submit test scores, so it’s a level playing field. There’s so many incongruencies with standardized testing that I am actually a fan of the test blind”.

Mrs. Melarkey also supports this policy because standardized tests are not an accurate review of the whole student. Your nerves may have been extremely high the morning of the test, hurting your ability to focus. Or maybe you were tired from a long night of stressing. For many of you, it is because you are not a great test taker.

“That one Saturday morning snapshot of you as you’re taking a standardized test is not necessarily indicative of what kind of a successful college student you’re going to be,” Mrs. Melarkey says. “More of what is an indication of a good college student is the four year track record of your high school career — what classes have you challenged yourself with, how are your grades, and if they are improving”.

The UCs use a “holistic review”, which refers to the selection process that takes into consideration applicants’ experiences, attributes, and academic metrics as well as the value an applicant would contribute to learning, practice, and teaching. This allows admission committees to review the “whole” applicant.

Considering the UCs have many factors on which they evaluate the application, the removal of test scores will not be influential. However, the CSUs evaluate students based on academic performance alone.

“Removing that test score is removing one third of what they used to weigh” says Mrs. Melarkey.

Previous to the elimination of test scores, there were three aspects assessed in the CSU application: grades, rigor of coursework, and test scores. Therefore, the suspension of test scores could be more detrimental to this very basic application.

While the simplicity of the CSU application feels a little daunting, it serves as a good reminder to stay focused in the classroom. The trajectory of your grades is very telling of what kind of person you are.

“You don’t even have to start strong as a freshman necessarily, it’s more the progression of your GPA, learning every year how to study, meeting with your teachers, and how to organize yourself” says Mrs. Melarkey.

The CSUs believe academic growth is enough to determine whether or not a student has “got what it takes”, so keep applying yourself if it is your dream to be on one of those 23 campuses. 

“I didn’t like my test scores, and so I am glad they don’t have to be sent in because I don’t think my grades reflect in my test scores,” says Olivia Cepeda (‘22), who opted not to take the SAT/ACT when she heard the UC and CSU campuses were going test blind “I want to go to a UC or CSU really badly, so I was worried about how they would affect my admissions process until they went test blind”.

Olivia is right — if you are a good student whose grades and test scores do not match up, then a test blind policy feels like a relief. But there are students out there who perform well on their standardized test and will not get to have that positive supplement.

“There are the students who are great test takers and do really well on those standardized tests and that used to be a good extra bonus on their application,” says Mrs. Melarkey. “They would be hurt in this a little bit”.

Whether you fall into the pro or anti-standardized test category, there is a price to pay with the test blind policy. The weight lifted off the test scores is shifted into other areas of the application. Grades, rigor of curriculum, extracurriculars, and essays will hold greater weight than they previously have.

“It really encourages me to try harder in all of those aspects because, without test scores, they are looking at every part of your application more intensely” says Olivia. “I work on my essays a lot harder and I work on making sure my grades stay good and were good throughout high school”.

Applying to college is a long and work intensive process, so Olivia leaves you with a few words of advice: “Start early. Even when you think you have a lot of time, it goes by fast and you don’t want to be stressed in October and November. Try to do Early Action and get in your Letter of Recommendation forms early because everyone is going to be scrambling in the last month.”

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