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OPINION: The charade of ‘test-optional’ admissions


In spring 2020, as schools and test centers will close down, it was only fair that colleges would suspend the ACT and SAT entrance requirements. A pandemic would be an excellent reason to change the rules.

Three years later, and months after the Covid-19 national emergency was declared over, 80 percent of colleges and universities are still following “test-optional” protocols. The critics of these tests have generally praised this trend, arguing that the exams were unfair because of the large percentage of high test scores from wealthy test takers. The test-optional system, in reality, is much more excluding than the mandatory testing requirement.

College admissions are more competitive than ever before. Since 2019, the number of college applicants has increased each year. This is known by students with access to test-tutors and college counselors, i.e. wealthier students. Many still use ACT or SAT exams as a way to stand out.

As test tutors, students are being taught to use their scores to thread the needle. As an SAT/ACT teacher in New York City, I was hired by a tutoring company to teach SAT/ACT.

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