Sophomores React to Changes in Standardized Testing and College Process


Pete Zivkov on Flickr

Menlo sophomores attend their online class with math teacher Leanne Rouser during the pandemic. Students have experienced an altered way of learning due to the added challenges of the pandemic. Photo courtesy of Pete Zivkov.

Julia Naik, Staff Writer

The pandemic has greatly impacted the college admissions process, and these changes have transformed the application experience for many sophomores. According to Insight Education, a majority of colleges have gone test-optional for the Class of 2021 and Class of 2022, meaning that applicants are no longer required to take or submit these standardized tests. Some colleges have gone test blind instead, meaning that even if a student decides to submit their test, it will not be a considered factor of their application. 

In preparation for college exams, many sophomores have begun taking practice SAT and ACT tests to figure out what they need to study and if it would be useful for them to take the actual test in the future. According to US News, the entire University of California system has decided to cancel the SAT and ACT requirement for 2023 and 2024 applicants, while other colleges are still determining how to proceed for future applying classes. If given the option, sophomore Emma Borders would choose to take the tests. “I am a strong test taker, so I think my test scores would be one of the better aspects of my application,” Borders said.  Borders also appreciates the possibility of optional submission. “If I don’t end up performing well, I wouldn’t have to submit it, so there would be no negative repercussions,” Borders said.

Sophomore Isabel Cordon, on the other hand, would prefer to not take a standardized test. “The testing process is very stressful, and testing is not my strong suit, so I would rather rely on the other parts of my resume to get into college,” Cordon said. The SAT and ACT testing process is long and rigorous, and as mentioned by ABC 7 News, there are new learning restrictions such as online school and the shutting down of most in-person tutoring services that have limited test preparation resources for students.

Those who have opted out of taking the standardized tests must rely on other parts of their resumes for college admissions, such as report cards, recommendation letters, internships, clubs and other unique life experiences.

Due to the pandemic, many programs and internships have shut down due to safety precautions; therefore, it can be difficult for students to broaden and diversify their application portfolios. Menlo alum Mia Thom (‘20) reflects on her experience with the application process. “A large portion of my academic resume for college was geared toward the various summer programs and community service projects I participated in,” Thom said. Thom expressed her empathy for this year’s applicant group. “It is unfair that they are unable to participate in the variety of programs I had access to when I applied,” Thom said.

COVID-19 has stunted the application process greatly for the 2021 and 2022 application groups, but according to the ACT testing organization, they are planning to offer an online ACT testing option with an online proctor to accommodate for any testing difficulties.