Universities change standardized testing requirements


Feature photo by Kat Sarafianos

Ji-Sung Lee

Strict deadlines, personal statements, essays and teacher recommendations.  The college application process is by no means a breeze. Yet with a recent adjustment, colleges such as the University of Chicago and Ball State University (BSU) began omitting standardized testing requirements, providing some comfort for applicants.
Chris Munchel, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services & Executive Director of Admissions and Orientation, said BSU began the process of reviewing admissions, enrollment policies and procedures in the spring of 2017. This change, to omit the American College Testing (ACT) and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) requirement, found support in research showing high school Grade Point Averages (GPAs) are the strongest predictor of college success, Munchel said.
“By becoming test-optional, Ball State will be more attractive and accessible to all students that are motivated and perform well in the classroom,” Munchel said. “For applicants that choose test-optional, Ball State will, along with [high school] GPA, continue to take into consideration, while reviewing each applicant holistically, the students’ curriculum, extra-curricular activities, in school and community, grade trends, personal statements, reference letters and any other information the applicant provides they feel is a positive addition to their application.”
If more colleges were to disregard score requirements, potentially, there would be a wider variety of schools that students may apply to, senior Anel Castro said. Yet there is validity to the current system, as Castro believes it pushes individuals to try their best, although it might be tough to get a desired score.
“Getting rid of the testing score requirement, may give an opportunity to those who are excellent students but not so good at taking standardized tests,” Castro said. “However, there are colleges that allow a higher GPA if the test scores are low, [but] if they got rid of this it could lead to individuals not taking the test if it’s not a requirement.”
BSU encourages students to pursue the best college prep curriculum available. The classes a student chooses will set them apart from other students with similar GPAs, Munchel said.  He believes focusing on Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate honors and/or dual-credit courses is important for future success.

“When listing clubs and activities on your application, focus on those that truly demonstrate your commitment and interests,” Munchel said. “Spend time giving back by helping others. Ball State believes in taking care of your neighbors.”
Junior Olivia Guess, who has time before she begins applying, already notices standardized tests add stress to students. There are certainly worries about getting a high enough score to get scholarships, Guess said. She noted getting rid of the score requirement would certainly ease a lot of stress, though she believes it would be harder for colleges to compare students. She does like the idea, however, of colleges not only using test scores for immediate elimination.
“[RBHS] is nice because we have a lot of opportunities to get involved in sports and clubs, but I’m sure there are other schools that make it harder for students to be involved,” Guess said. “Really, I think, though, that being involved is really important and I would love for colleges to look more into this. But I understand why the ACT is used for college applications, so I think we should still send in the scores.”
For students who have tested well and believe their scores are a positive addition to their academic record, Munchel suggests submitting their results. At BSU at least, Munchel said this change creates opportunities for even more high-achieving students to take advantage of the academic programs, learning experiences and the supportive campus community.
“Overall, a student’s application should show who they are, not just what they have done,” Munchel said. “Motivation, creativity and curiosity are also important to us at Ball State.”
 What do you think about the test-optional application? Let us know in the comments below.