CVHS Student Opinions on College Admissions and Standardized Testing


Ayan Rasulova

With college application season nearing an end, Centreville senior stress levels have reached their peak as students frantically try to maintain their high first semester grades. While not every senior is applying to college (with many opting for gap years or community college instead), numerous students harbor strong opinions about the overall admissions process itself. 

“No, I don’t think it’s fair,” says one anonymous senior. “I think that there are too many underlying systemic problems that become exacerbated and create real inequalities between candidates— things like emphasis [on] education in a household, access to education, availability of resources like a tutor or application editor, etc.” 

While these structural disparities in the admissions process do pose a barrier for many students, specifically financially disadvantaged students, attempts at resolving said concerns have been made, namely, colleges slowly moving away from standardized admissions testing. In fact, for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, all eight Ivy League colleges have provided the opportunity to have a “test-optional” application, meaning that there is no SAT or ACT requirement. Many students seem to be in support of this policy, with one student claiming standardized tests “do not fully encompass the intelligence of the students in academia.”

Others believe that standardized testing isn’t a simple black-and-white issue, with some tests being more representative of a student’s capabilities than others. “I think colleges should move away from the SAT and ACT, but not the AP exams,” says one senior. “The SAT and ACT are horribly affected by economic disparities: being able to retake them as many times as you want and being able to afford a tutor. The SAT and ACT are indicators of how well you can study, not how smart or prepared you are for college. However, AP exams are one-try indicators of success in a class where grades might otherwise fail, and are worth keeping.”

Despite improvements to the admissions process, many student criticisms primarily critique nationwide systemic issues, such as racial disparities and wealth inequality, that make reform difficult unless those underlying problems are addressed. However, it’s safe to say that despite these challenges, colleges and universities are slowly but surely working towards addressing the concerns of students in college admissions.