Test-Optional Application Policy Provokes Stress Among Seniors

Optional standardized test reporting has heightened the rigorous and already-stressful college application process for seniors. Students traditionally are required to submit their standardized test scores when applying to college, but this year, students can decide if reporting a test score will be a benefit or a detriment to their application and take action accordingly.
Although the College Board’s decision to go test-optional is an attempt to reduce inequity, Latin’s seniors take an alternate perspective. Senior Shreya Wojno said she thinks test-optional admissions “turned the process into even more of a game.” Rather than submitting scores regardless of the results, students must determine whether submitting standardized test scores will benefit their academic profiles. “It puts an added pressure on students who aren’t receiving perfect scores,” Shreya said.
Students appeared to be like-minded when considering the pros and cons of reporting a score. Tejas Vadali ‘21, who endured the application process, said, “When it comes down to a make or break of an application, test scores will never necessarily be the ‘make,’ but they can be the ‘break.’”
“Other academic information works to prepare and demonstrate Latin students as strong, worthy applicants,” Tejas said, and those students “don’t need a two-digit or four-digit number to prove that.”
Despite a general consensus among the senior class that a number should not define an applicant, Latin students still feel pressure to report their scores. Shreya said, “I believe that schools across the country have made tests optional within the last two years to reduce inequity during COVID. Not all students had the privilege from a financial standpoint to take a practice test or get tutoring.” But Latin students, she said, “coming from a well-known private school with awesome resources, might be expected to report test scores.”
Senior David Watts also believes that Latin students who submit test scores will have more success in admissions. “In this process, it’s Latin students competing against each other,” he said, “and a student that reports any ‘decent’ score is demonstrating a great feat and devotion to a very time-consuming process. From my understanding, the student that can show that will be a far stronger applicant.”
Shreya said, “Test scores aren’t a fair gauge of academic success or capabilities. It’s situational, and if you feel it’s appropriate to report a score, you should, and no harm if you don’t.”