”可选择不提交考试成绩“真的意味着考试无关紧要吗?

美国的大学,尤其是顶尖大学,一直是声称他们注重对申请者的整体评估。然而,我在学院和大学工作的这些年,从未见过一个东亚学生的标准化考试分数低于1500。因此我清楚地认识到,尽管大学对学生的课外活动进行了全面评估,对东亚学生来说,考试分数仍然很重要。
 
随着新型冠状病毒和学校的“可选择考试”,学院和大学更加重视分享整体评估的重要性了。这是好事,因为可以肯定的是,我们中的一些人在标准化考试中的表现比其他人差。但是,“可选择考试”真的是可选的吗?我认为不可能。下面分享一下我为什么得出这个结论。
 

“可选择不提交考试成绩”,而不是“无视考试成绩”

如果分数对你的申请完全没有任何影响,那么学校就会变得无视考试(就像加利福尼亚大学计划在2023年会做的那样)。如果不考试,就意味着考试成绩不会影响学生是否被录取,相反,评估将集中在申请书的其他关键部分: 论文、推荐信、成绩单等等。然而,在这期间,学校仍然是可选择测试,所以如果提交分数,他们就会审查,并且有人天真的认为考试成绩对申请没有任何意义。
 

学校仍欢迎提交成绩

尽管看到如此多的高中辅导员恳求大学告诉学生“不提交考试成绩” ,但大学和学院坚决拒绝这样做。尽管来自400多个机构的招生代表已经签署了一份协议( https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/newsroom/test-optional-means-test-optional/) ,声明“考试选择权确实是可选择的” ,学生不会因为没有提交考试成绩而受到惩罚,但他们仍然没有说“不需要任何人参加考试”。可以得出的结论是,虽然你可能不会因为没有考试成绩而受到处罚,但是如果你有这些成绩并且成绩优异,那么无论多么微小的方面,你都是有优势的。对于那些在顶尖学院激烈竞争的国际中国学生来说,任何优势都是重要的。
 
此外,NACAC (美国大学招生咨询协会)一直认为 SAT/ACT 会造成入学机会的不均衡,这迫使学生面临考试取消的压力、花时间备考却没能考试(如果他们再也不能参加考试)的压力,以及新冠病毒带来的健康风险。(https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2020/08/18) / nacac-issues-report-standarded-testing-admissions)即使有这些强有力的论据,目前仍然没有高校不去参考申请者的分数以及质疑“可选择提交成绩”的必要性。
 

你的竞争力

让我们拿两个相似的学生举例。两人有着相同的民族或种族背景,来自同一个国家,相同的基本课外活动,相同的 GPA。在老师的推荐信中,他们都被称为“勤奋的学生”。当然,也许其中一个比另一个更外向,但是有了论文编辑帮助和模拟面试训练,招生委员不会知道其他的情况。假设,尽管他们有很多相似之处,但他们申请的是同一所学校,其中一位SAT分数1550,而另一位选择不参加 SAT 考试,这样他就没有考试成绩。从逻辑上讲,你认为谁会被录取?实际上他们是同一类型的候选人,但有一个已被证实的测试成绩,招生办公室历来认为,这提供了决定大学成功的预测价值。因此,虽然没有 SAT 分数的学生不会因为缺考而受到惩罚,但是有1550分的学生更有可能在这个申请池中获得区别于竞争对手的优势
 

我们最好的建议

除非马上进行彻底的改革,让学校完全不考试,否则考试分数似乎仍然可以起到一定的作用。虽然学生不会因为没有考试成绩而受到惩罚,但如果他们的竞争对手有成绩且成绩优异,那么他们就会有优势。不过,今年的“好处”是,如果你今年参加 SAT/ACT 考试但分数不高,你可以选择不提交分数,这比起前些年让招生人员看到低分更有“优势”。我们最好的建议是: 如果可能的话,参加考试。因为你可能面对的情况是,跟你同时申请你梦校的竞争者参加了考试
英文原文:

Does “Test Optional” Really Mean Tests Don’t Matter? No.

Colleges, particularly the top ones, have always stated that they focus on holistic evaluation of college applications. However, in my time working within colleges and universities, I have never seen an East Asian student with standardized test scores lower than 1500.  So despite holistic evaluations that look at co-curricular and extracurricular activities, it was clear to me that for East Asians, testing matters despite holistic evaluation processes.  

With COVID-19 and schools going test optional, colleges and universities are focusing more heavily on sharing the importance of holistic evaluations. This is well and good because surely, some of us just perform worse than others on standardized tests.  But, is test optional truly test optional? I would argue no.  Let me share why I come to this conclusion.

Test Optional, not Test Blind

If the scores had absolutely no bearing on your application, the schools would become test blind (ilke the University of California will do in 2023).  Being test blind would mean that test scores would have no impact on whether or not a student will be admitted and instead, evaluation will focus on other critical parts of an application: the essays, letters of recommendation, transcript, etc.  However, during this cycle, schools remain test optional so if scores are submitted, they will be reviewed and one would be naive to assume they do not mean something to the application.

Scores are still welcome

Despite seeing so many high school college counselors plead with universities to just tell students “do not submit test scores”, colleges and universities have steadfastly refused to do this. While admissions representatives from over 400 institutions have gone so far as to sign an agreement (https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/newsroom/test-optional-means-test-optional/)  that states “test option is truly test optional” and students would not be penalized for not submitting test scores, they still have not said “no need for anyone to take them.”  The only logical conclusion to be drawn is that while you might not be penalized for missing test scores, you could be advantaged, in however small a way, if you have them and they are stellar scores.  And for international Chinese students who have a stiff competition pool at the top schools, any advantage is important.

Furthermore, NACAC (the National Association for College Admission Counseling) has continually argued that the SAT/ACT create a disparity in access and with COVID-19 (https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2020/08/18/nacac-issues-report-standardized-testing-admissions), this is not only more pronounced but forces students into stressful situations with test cancellations, preparations that may have no consequence (if they cannot ever take a test), and health risks.  Even with these strong arguments, there is currently still no move for institutions to become test blind begging the question of “why” submitting a test is still an option.

Your Competition

Let’s take two students.  Both are similar, with the same ethnic or racial background, from the same country, same basic extracurricular involvement, and same GPA.  Both are called ‘hard working students’ in their teacher recommendations.  Sure, maybe one might be more outgoing than the other, but with essay editing help and mock interview training, an admissions committee would not know otherwise.  Suppose, though, for all their similarities, they apply to the same school and one has an SAT score of 1550 but one chose not to take the SAT so they have no standardized test score. Logically, who do you think will be admitted?  They are virtually the same type of candidate, but one has a proven test that admissions offices have historically believed to offer predictive value in determining college success.  Thus, while the student without the SAT score is not punished for the missing test per se, the one with the 1550 is more likely to gain an advantage against their competitor in this application pool.

Our Best Advice


Unless there are sweeping reforms soon where institutions completely become test blind, test scores can still, seemingly, make some difference. While students will not be punished for not having test scores, if their competition does and the score is excellent, it would appear that they would have an advantage.   What is a ‘bonus’ for this year though, is if you were to take the SAT/ACT this year and score terribly despite studying.  You could then choose not to submit those scores, perhaps giving yourself a slight ‘advantage’ over previous years when admissions officers would see your low score.  Our best advice: take them if possible and safe for you.  Because odds are, you have someone competing for the same spot at your dream school who will be taking the test.