When Are Standardized Tests Going to Disappear?

Barry Lenson

When Are Standardized Tests Going to Disappear?

Across America every year, tens of thousands of high school students ask, “When are standardized tests going to go away?” They’re fed up with the ACT and the SAT tests and they want them to disappear.

Surprisingly, many colleges feel the same way about these tests. That’s why a growing number of institutions are no longer requiring them. The list of test-optional schools is growing every year, and now includes Drew University in New Jersey, Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, and all the schools in the University of California system.

A brief history of the SAT . . .

The first Scholastic Aptitude Test was a psychological experiment that was administered way back in 1901. Surprising, right? In that year, fewer than 1,000 students took the test. But in the years since then, the SAT has become a test taken by between 1.5 and 2 million students every year, at $45 a pop.

The SAT has become a staggering money-maker for ETS and for dozens of other businesses that swim alongside it, scavenging the dollars that ETS has let slip through its fingers. They include tutoring companies that charge huge fees to teach students to take the test. They also include publishers that produce books on how to ace the test. Plus, there are all of those software companies that have developed products that are designed to help boost scores.

And remember that another test, the ACT, has entered the fray too. The ACT was planned as an alternative to the SAT. But the ACT has become little more than the SAT’s clone. Students have to pay $32 to take it – or $47 if they opt for the version that includes a writing section. And let’s face the facts – most students today take both tests, just to see how they do. So the ACT, which was supposed to solve the SAT problem, has only doubled it.

How can you avoid giving your money to the standardized testing beast? You can apply to testing-optional colleges. You can also apply for an SAT fee waiver, which ETS makes available to needy students. Another way is to start out at StraighterLine, and then transfer to one of StraighterLine’s 25 Partner Colleges.

So there really is a way to go to college without paying tons of money to the test-providers and to the tutoring companies and other companies that have grown up around them.


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