Standardized tests made optional: What could this mean to your study abroad plans?
Ever since several top international colleges like Harvard, MIT, and Princeton have made standardized tests for admissions optional, many students believe that its relevance is lost now.
Also known as competitive international entrance exams, standardized tests evaluate students on a set of parameters and come with a certain bar. Pre-Covid, some of the exams like Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for management students, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for general subjects, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for engineering and science, among others, used to be mandatory exams for admissions in several colleges in the US and Canada.
Helps in a fair assessment
Standardized tests were always an important criterion for evaluating international students’ intelligence as well as their logical and reasoning abilities.
As developed countries attract students worldwide for higher studies, a standardized test makes it easier for colleges and universities to assess learners from diverse backgrounds. These tests represent a fair and impartial way to give that competitive edge to a candidate in admissions.
With standardized tests made optional, a candidate will be assessed based on their schools’ academic performance only.
High school grades and teacher recommendations are important but vary from place to place. Every country has its evaluation system for grading and marking, which makes it quite challenging for colleges to differentiate between 2 competitive candidates based on just the mark sheet.
As a result, students applying for admissions in colleges where these tests are optional have seen a higher rejection rate.
Why Standardized tests made optional?
According to experts, there is one main reason for making standardized tests optional – the sheer economics for the global universities that depend heavily on international students.
Even high-ranked colleges need international students for financial reasons. Compared to a local candidate, they get at least 3 times more fees from an international student. So, many have decided to accept applications without an SAT score.
Around the same time, there was a narrative that standardized tests could only benefit well-off students as they could spend good money on preparation, afford to hire top-class teachers and get good marks in order to get admission to good colleges.
Consequent to these developments, many institutions decided to remove the mandatory requirement of standardized tests.
Should one still take these tests?
Now the question is, if the standardized tests are optional and universities are accepting applications directly, should a student still take these?
A group of experts dealing in foreign education affairs answers in the affirmative. They believe that the number of applications is going up three-fold, and colleges are facing an arduous task in selecting students.
The University of Michigan, one of the top universities in the US, has sent letters to parents stating that the admission process is taking more time than usual on account of copious amounts of undergraduate applications.
The experts believe that if candidates aim for a top college in countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, or the US, they must take a standardized test as it makes the colleges’ job of selecting students easier.
To substantiate his argument, The Georgia Institute of Technology recently declared the admission results, and almost all the candidates that were selected had applied with their standardized tests.
Another group of experts believes international students, particularly those from India, benefit from writing SAT.
The pandemic-induced lockdown and remote schooling for the last 2+ years have rendered the “selection based on grades” process highly unreliable.
Grade inflation is on the rise as many schools have adopted pass/fail for multiple subjects. AP tests (similar to SAT) have suffered delays and cancellations, making those less effective as a differentiator.
As a result, subjective assessment is becoming the norm, and most admission offices are facing a serious challenge of objective measurement, hurting students in a big way.
Students from India are particularly at a disadvantage as our school system, for the most part, is not geared towards developing subjective qualities amongst its students.
Going abroad to study takes a lot of preparation regardless of whether one decides to take the standardized tests or not. Professional counseling is highly advised in this case and we at overseas education services Bangalore is the best place to choose.