Currently more than half of the degree colleges and universities in the US have decided to drop the use of SAT or ACT scores for admissions to courses offered in Fall 2021. After the University of California, institutions including Brown, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Caltech, the University of Virginia and Yale among over 1,200 universities have said they have made the use of test scores optional.
Some universities such as the University of Virginia have said that this may remain in place beyond this year.
This came after a 2019 lawsuit said that standardized testing was biased against the poor and mainly Hispanic and Black students. The petitioners argued that these test scores allowed the system to illegally discriminate against students based on their race, disability and wealth.
Meanwhile, a number of Indian universities also use SAT scores to conduct admissions. This includes IIM Ranchi, Ashoka University, NMIMS in Mumbai and Mumbai to name a few, which continue to grant admission on the basis of SAT.
Co-founder and CEO of Crimson Education Jamie Beaton said that SAT/ACT scores are “quite valuable” for international students.
As US universities are not quite familiar with the Indian education system, exams like the SAT helped them and let Indian students apply and experience this kind of international standards of quality, Beaton added.
He further said that not using the SAT will put students who are really good and talented at a disadvantage. Students should take the exam even if it is optional as it helps standardise things.
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School director of the Pathways School, Aravali, Sonya Ghandy Mehta said that 2021 could turn out to be a tough year for Indian students hoping to study graduate courses in the US. Making these tests optional may take away the advantage of merit-based scholarships although some US schools may consider their applications with or without SAT/ACT scores.
Mehta, however, mentioned that this flexibility may allow international students to show their strengths or talents in other possible ways. Also, standardized test scores do not adequately demonstrate one’s skills and abilities and now, extracurricular activities, community involvement and academic grades may play a bigger role in admissions decisions.
A career counsellor based out of Delhi, Pervin Malhotra, said that this may benefit Indian students as the Indian school system does not prepare students for exams like the SAT or ACT and they are forced to prepare for them separately.
Malhotra further added that US scholarship decisions are not likely to be affected by this as there is always a separate quota for scholarships for international students.
Vice president of college readiness assessments at the College Board Priscilla Rodriguez expressed her support for the new decision and introduction of more flexibility by US colleges. She added that while some may find their applications stronger without the test scores, others may benefit from sending them.
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