For the incoming freshman arriving on campus this fall, they won’t have to worry about something that’s troubled university applicants for years: the all-powerful standardized test. Baylor has made the ACT and SAT optional for the incoming class, but if Baylor really wants to make a courageous step, it will expand on its policy and make standardized testing optional for all future classes. In order to attract the best students in the nation, Baylor should look elsewhere to accredit them for their academic success.
Standardized testing can seem like a good way of measuring the knowledge and critical thinking skills of a prospective student. It is also very easy to do on a mass scale and can provide calculable numbers that university admissions can look at and measure against other scores.
However, the system has many drawbacks that may actually leave good candidates outside the gates of our great university. Requiring test scores can create undue stressors for students and does not show the whole picture. Baylor holistically evaluates its applicants, but the scores right now are just as important in the mind of students as good grades in classes, making it a priority for many.
Testing can also be expensive — not only the tests themselves, but test courses and tutors as well. The time put into studying for standardized tests can be reallocated toward other activities that improve a college application, including clubs and honors organizations.
Focusing too much on standardized testing can distract from a student’s other talents. For applicants who may have problems with testing environments, standardized tests present an unequal playing field. Students from wealthy families also have a significant leg up on their lower-income peers.
Grade point average can function as a much better measure of a student’s success, seeing as it can cover a period of many years of academic challenge, rather than a simple test, which can be changed dramatically very easily based on smaller affecting factors, like the quality of the testing environment. When students are applying to a four-year university, they should be judged primarily based on their GPA from their years in high school.
While some students will always take the standardized tests to improve their college chances, Baylor should look to do away with the requirement altogether. Prioritizing GPA and showing that emphasis to incoming classes should make the tests less stressful overall for applicants who do decide to take them, while others can have the possibility of prioritizing their classes and organizations without fear of losing any academic marketability with university admissions.