Thou Shall Exercise Discretion When Going Test-Optional

By Jinsil V. Kim, MBA, M.Div. / C2 Education of McLean

Ms. Kim is currently the CEO of Joy & Joseph’s C2 Education Franchise Group, which is located in DC and Florida. She joined C2 Education in 2007 and has since led one of the most successful franchise groups within the nationwide company. Ms. Kim received the prestigious Dean’s Scholarship Award from Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University. She graduated with Distinction from UCLA Extension as a Certified College Counselor. Ms. Kim is a devoted wife and mother of three children, Sebastian (6), Theodore (5), and Sophia Grace (3). She met her husband, Dr. Crutchley, during his anesthesiology residency interview at Johns Hopkins.

In 2006, Ms. Kim obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University. Her life’s desire is to please God and love people.

The implementation of test-optional policies by many colleges and universities has raised concerns among students and parents about the relevance of standardized tests in college admissions. While the reported benefits of test-optional policies include higher retention rates and increased diversity, it is essential to examine the potential risks and consequences that students may face when going test-optional. Some critics argue that standardized tests are inherently biased against underserved minority students, making the tests unsuitable for college admissions. However, the elimination of an objective measure could result in increased reliance on subjective measures, such as essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities. This introduces the possibility of bias, as admissions officers may have different opinions on what constitutes a strong essay or impressive extracurricular activities.

Moreover, the suggestion that high school GPAs could replace standardized tests as an objective measure of academic ability is not entirely accurate. Research shows that high school GPAs have been steadily rising in recent decades, leading to grade inflation, making it more challenging for colleges to compare applications from different schools and regions equitably. “One recent study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that high school GPAs have been rising steadily over the past few decades, even as SAT scores have remained relatively stable. The study found that the average high school GPA in 2016 was 3.38, compared to 2.52 in 1990.”
Additionally, exempting students from test preparation may not necessarily be beneficial in the long term as they will face various standardized tests in their chosen professional fields.
Although there are benefits to going test-optional, it is crucial to exercise discretion when making this decision. For top colleges and universities, going test-optional may signal a lack of confidence, and understanding one’s scores may help identify academic strengths and weaknesses.
Rather than taking a binary approach, we should explore the possibility of creating a college admission test that measures academic ability accurately and promotes a culturally inclusive worldview. This can be achieved through education, and a change in the college admission process may require collaborative efforts from all stakeholders involved.

Mattern, K., Patterson, B., & Shaw, E. J. (2018). Grade inflation and admission testing. Educational Researcher, 47(7), 423-434. doi: 10.3102/0013189X18785603
OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT [Computer software]. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from https://www.openai.com

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