Test Optional Route: Causing Less Stress For Students?


As of recently, Spring Valley students are not as dependent on their test scores as many others were before the pandemic. The further focus on essay entrances amongst college admissions are changing the tracks of students’ futures. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new focus among, not only college admissions, but also future applicants. This shift is one that many applicants have been undertaking, since it provides accurate representation and individuality amongst students rather than going off of test scores.  

“I think colleges are starting to be more open to the fact that test scores don’t really represent who you are as a person,” said senior Hayla Heindel. “Our personal essay gives you more freedom to express yourself and talk about your accomplishments rather than just a number.” 

A common virtue among high school students is representation, which students aim to convey in their college essays. It presents the unique identity of the student applying and gives admissions officers a sense of what that student does inside and out of the classroom.The search for students growing on a personal level rather than a level of intelligence is what many students want to get through to admission officers on their college essays. 

“I think recently there has been more controversy over standardized testing in general, not just the SAT,” junior Richard Echavez said.

Many Spring Valley students have emphasized that test scores cannot communicate everything about them because many students don’t have proper access to resources or don’t have the money to pay for standardized tests. The realization of quality over quantity is what has created this shift in the application process of admission. 

“Well I heard that UCLA [University of California Los Angeles] stopped taking SAT and ACT scores after COVID,” said sophomore Maya Chimaroke. “They said that they were going to reevaluate that for the 2025 school year.”

The test optional route has provided many high school students with less stress on their end and a better focus on their current school status, so they can better prepare for their future.

“I think that there’s just so much going on nowadays with everything advancing,” early graduate Angelina Rivera said. “And now all the time that used to be directed towards studying for SATs is now put towards academics, making sure your GPA is high, making sure you’re taking hard classes, and getting all of those scholarships.” Rivera exemplifies that with modern day advancements there are other things that students are prioritizing. With standardized tests becoming optional, students are able to master skills both in class and throughout their extracurriculars. It also lets students properly prepare for their future when they are able to know what is needed of them when applying for colleges and universities. 

“I think your grade reflects more in the challenge of the course you are in, whether it’s IB [International Baccalaureate], or AP [Advanced Placement], and I think that’s more informative than the ACT or SAT,” said senior Kian Flynn.

Although many students do think that personal essays and some test scores may matter, others like Flynn reflect more on their grades and GPA [Grade Point Average] which holds a better understanding of the challenging courses that were taken by the student. The challenging courses that individuals take are what some students think should be considered during admission. Since many students put a lot of effort into the grades that they get and the individual test taking skills that they are able to produce in more challenging courses. 

“I never prioritized studying for standardized tests as they are slowly starting to be irrelevant in the college application process,” senior Sandy Basambekyan said. “Instead I prioritize my GPA and whether or not I was actually grasping the content being taught in my classes.” 

The SAT is mainly a guidance for placement in the college or university that students want to attend, yet the idea of those scores is what students focus on most. Students end up differentiating the things that they prioritize based on the effort that they put into their work. 


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