More SUNY schools become test optional due to decrease in test scores

SUNY college applications are changing to the point that SAT and ACT scores will soon no longer be a part of the admissions process.

Currently, many colleges are and have already made the decision to remove the standard testing requirement, but how will that change the way applicants apply to their chosen schools?

SUNY Oswego has been a test optional school for many years now and has developed a method of how to review applications with or without the scores.

“I think we have come a long way since a lot of institutions have become test optional. I would say permanently due to COVID, the pandemic, and students inability to take those exams,” said Sandra Montalvo, associate director of admissions at SUNY Oswego.

Since COVID, SAT and ACT testing became difficult to administer due to strict quarantine restrictions. Many scheduled tests were postponed or rescheduled for months  at the beginning of the pandemic and continued throughout. This opened some leeway for applicants when it came to applying for colleges during the pandemic. 

Montalvo said that the majority of Oswego students don’t submit their scores with their applications. She also says that the scores are not an immediate indication of whether an applicant will be accepted into the college. 

“With being a test optional school right now we still have students that submit test scores if it helps their applications. We look at all components of their applications,” said Montalvo.

There are a variety of other things that the Oswego admissions process looks at such as AP classes, extracurriculars, volunteer work, etc. The scores are reviewed as a way to increase an applicant’s chances of being accepted and a chance to gain scholarships to assist with tuition costs. Otherwise the scores don’t prove the extent of an applicant’s academic achievements nor their pursuit to further their education at the college. 

Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid Jennie Hoffman Smith also said that the scores weren’t an indicator of the potential of the student. She also said that there are other attributes that a student can have that will make them an ideal candidate for acceptance.

“Are they taking AP courses? Are they taking college level courses? Are they volunteering for outside things they can earn credit for,” said Hoffman.

Though SAT and ACT scores were a way that students could also receive financial aid, there is a concern about how students could earn scholarships if the scores are not evaluated. Scholarships have become an important factor to many students for applying to school due to the rise in tuition costs and living expenses. SUNY Oswego, since going test optional, has created a method for the students that are in need of scholarship offers.

“Even though we are test optional now and students aren’t required to take the SAT or ACT, our Assistant Director Antonio Vazques, when he determines eligibility for that program he can use the high school GPA,” said Hoffman. 

Hoffman also said in an interview there is a type of scholarship that students could be eligible for in the case of needing extra aid. Though this scholarship is available, it’s not offered to every student applying to the school, but only in the cases where it is needed.

“SAT and ACT scores aren’t required for determination of federal or state financial aid. The only exception is the Federal Teach grant,” said Hoffman.

The pandemic has definitely caused many changes within SUNY schools, in the classroom and the application process. Nothing is as it was when it came to getting ready for college, with the SAT and ACT tests becoming a big important part of finishing high school to get into a good school. However due to the pandemic and COVID restrictions, this has not become possible.

“I would say the majority of our students are not submitting that information any more,” said Montalvo.

College Board still encourages high schools and colleges to reenforce the need for the scores. However, SAT and ACT scores are just being slowly cut out of proving a students academic potential and are not being reviewed by certain colleges unless necessary.