To kick off the summer of 2018, the University of Chicago announced that it would no longer require its prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores in order to be considered for acceptance. While the value of standardized test scores has been a heavily debated topic for years, U of C became the first school consistently ranked in the top 5 in the country to make this decision, so what does that really mean? We’ve talked to teachers, professors, guidance counselors, and admissions officers in the past couple of weeks and wanted to share a the main takeaways.
1. The University of Chicago is trying to build a diverse, well-rounded student body, and standardized tests, historically, have tended to benefit wealthier students. U of C hopes that by making these tests optional and encouraging prospective students to send in a video introduction instead, they’ll be able to accept promising candidates whose test scores might have made them slip through the cracks.
2. No, this doesn’t mean you should stop taking the ACT/SAT. The vast majority of schools still require an ACT or SAT score, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. For all their faults, standardized tests still remain one of the few constants that allow college admissions officers to compare students. An ‘A’ in Chemistry in your high school might not mean you learned exactly the same material as someone who got an ‘A’ in Chemistry in Florida, but a 30 on the ACT is the same regardless of the state, so until someone comes up with a better way to analyze students from all over the world, the ACT/SAT will still be an important factor to most colleges.
3. However, this is additional evidence that your college resume needs to be more than just a good test score. When you’re thinking about applying to colleges, put yourself in the position of the person who will read your application. If you sit down at your desk and have 100 applications to go through, what kind of traits or experiences would stand out to you? A high test score would definitely help, but so would a high GPA, or a transcript full of the most challenging AP classes, or extracurriculars where you helped your community, or a state championship, or leadership positions in clubs, or an internship, or an incredible essay. Colleges want to see what you care about and how you’ve used your time and skills to better yourself and your high school/community, so there are many, many ways outside of a standardized test score to do that.