Daisy Okazaki: No More Standardized Tests

2 min

The University of California has joined other institutions in abandoning certain standardized tests. YR Media’s Daisy Okazaki considers the trade offs.

I was set to take the SAT for the first time in March, but the test was canceled the day before. When I found out, instead of feeling relieved, I was worried. As someone who struggles to keep on top of my school work, I’ve always been a comfortable test-taker and I hoped my SAT scores would help me stand out as an applicant in the fall.

Testing is something that lets me be competitive for colleges when my transcript or lack of AP classes could make me fall short. With UC going test-optional, I won’t be able to rely so much on my test scores, although I can see the benefits this new change can have for other students.

When colleges make the SAT and ACT optional, they give students the ability to play to their strengths. Students who have skills in other areas or who may be disadvantaged by testing are not limited by their score. I know research shows standardized testing disproportionately benefits wealthy and white kids, often inhibiting low-income students and people of color. On top of that, testing can be expensive, especially since many decide to test more than once.

However, as a student thinking about college, the new UC plan still leaves me with a lot of questions.

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Standardized testing comes with a lot of pressure to perform, but without the need for testing where does that pressure go? Without the measure of an SAT or ACT score, admissions may focus more on student GPA, number of AP classes, whether or not a student was in a leadership club or a competitive extracurricular.

I believe students should have every opportunity to stand out during the increasingly competitive and stressful admissions process. For me, that includes test scores.

I’m interested to see how this confusing time will spark change in the world of college admissions — a world that is only getting more competitive, expensive and selective. Between bribery scandals and the student debt crisis, it’s become increasingly obvious in these past few years that something needs to change. While I have some concerns, this new UC plan feels like a positive step in the right direction.

With a Perspective, I’m Daisy Okazaki

Daisy Okazaki lives in Berkeley. Her perspective was produced by YR Media.