Marietta College makes SATs and ACTs optional

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 4:02 PM EDT
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Marietta College has decided to make SAT and ACT scores optional for students applying for undergraduate admission to the school. The decision will go into effect for students applying for admission in the fall semester of 2021 or spring of 2022.

The decision was made as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulty many high school students have faced when trying to take the exams, according to Scot Schaeffer, vice president for enrollment management.

“The reason we decided to do it is, we’re already promoting applications for next year. The application for next year will be available August 1. And as I looked through the data around what happened with the pandemic, there are a lot of students who will be looking to start college next fall who haven’t had the opportunity to take their ACT or SAT,” Schaeffer said. “That puts the application process further behind for students. And for students who want to apply, get that part of it done, and find out where they’re getting in, we didn’t want to add an extra layer of stress, after what was a stressful time for a lot of people with their high school careers being upset [by the pandemic],” he added.

After the 2021-2022 school year, the college will reassess and determine whether it will make the decision permanent, though Schaeffer noted that more and more colleges and universities are choosing to make standardized test scores optional, and there are additional benefits beyond accommodating students during the pandemic.

“That’s where a lot of the national discussion has been going for a long time. They say there’s some bias in the testing, and it’s certainly true. Someone with a higher economic status can hire tutors or take these extra classes preparing for the tests. And sometimes some people are very good in their classes and what they do, they’re just not good test takers,” Schaeffer said. “I believe that their academic record, what they’ve done, how they’ve challenged themselves...that daily work, to me, is a better predictor than just a Saturday test,” he added.

The argument in favor of requiring standardized test scores, Schaeffer noted, would be that, while the content and difficulty of academic curricula vary depending on the high school, the tests do not.

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