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The Return of Standardized Tests: A Conversation with Ms. Shaw

The Return of Standardized Tests: A Conversation with Ms. Shaw

While the majority of colleges and universities have continued their test-optional policy for this year’s round of applicants, several schools are planning to ask for SAT and/or ACT test scores for the 2024-25 school year. Namely, Yale, Dartmouth, and Brown University have announced their return to requiring test scores. Ms. Randie Shaw, guidance counselor at Hastings High School, explained her expectations and potential concerns for the return to required test scores. 

While the guidance department was expecting the switch for some colleges, Ms. Shaw explained that she was “really curious to see what direction they were going to go in since there have been colleges that have been test-optional for years prior to Covid,” such as Bowdoin College, which went test-optional in 1969. For colleges that became test-optional during Covid, she was unsure if they would keep the test-optional policy after the pandemic subsided. 

Regarding standardized testing in general, Ms. Shaw explained her mixed feelings on the topic: “On the one hand, I see the need for something universal and standardized to create a fair way to compare students. On the other hand, I also see the inequities that come with standardized testing and I feel that they can be unfair and disadvantageous for some students.” 

For Hastings High School students, however,  it is unclear to what extent students have taken advantage of test-optional policies in recent years: “I am finding that many students had a mixed way of submitting their scores to schools. Many students still decided to still take the exams, but would ultimately decide to send their scores to some schools and not to other schools,” Ms. Shaw explained. She further noted that she rarely saw students who decided not to send their scores anywhere.

In terms of college admissions, Ms. Shaw does not believe that reintroducing test scores will impact the use of qualitative measures—like writing essays—in the decision process. 

“I think [schools] will still promote themselves as being holistic, although there are certain programs and scholarships at colleges that are looking for more quantitative benchmarks,” said Ms. Shaw. She added that certain test scores can qualify a student for an honors program or for merit financial aid, so the reintroduction of standardized testing might be beneficial to students in this respect.

Ms. Shaw acknowledges that there might be potential challenges or concerns for Hastings families as a result of the test policy switch: “[A test-optional policy] is great for students that might be anxious or that don’t test well, and I feel bad for those students.” However, she also sees that “there have only been a handful of students at colleges that have reversed their decisions, and they have primarily been some of the more elite colleges.”

Ultimately, while some schools are reintroducing a requirement for test scores, Ms. Shaw reaffirms that test scores are just one more piece of a puzzle to a student’s whole profile, and it will not be a make it or break it factor for students overall. 

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About the Contributor
Sophie Halliburton, Editor-in-Chief
Sophie is currently a senior at Hastings High School, and this is her third year being a part of The Buzzer. When she is not busy with school work, Sophie enjoys listening to music, going on drives with friends, and watching movies. Sophie loves The Buzzer and thinks you should too!

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