“Uncertain times,” “unprecedented,” & “the new normal”
Over the past nine months, it’s been nearly impossible to avoid these words/terms. They’ve become part of our societal lexicon to the point that they’re now cliche. Despite how overused these phrases and words have become, they are effective in describing what we’ve all been experiencing. Using the exact phrasing that accurately describes something is critical to effective communication.
This is the reason why Shenandoah University is introducing a new term to the conversation about testing in the college admissions process: test-unnecessary. Testing in the college admissions process has been the subject of many conversations and debates within higher education for quite a while now. Every year since the mid-1980s, colleges and universities made the decision to become test-optional, which means they gave applicants the choice to submit SAT/ACT scores. This movement was driven in large part by several studies that demonstrated that standardized testing was not an accurate measurement of a student’s potential for success. As more schools moved in this direction, other schools made the same decision.
At Shenandoah, we reviewed and researched our own data to determine if testing helped to predict student success. In November 2019, it was determined that for undergraduate applicants to Shenandoah, SAT/ACT scores both by themselves and when combined with high school GPA, did not predict success at SU. They were entirely unnecessary.
Enter COVID-19. Today, many college applicants are not able to safely spend a Saturday morning in a room taking an exam with 20 other students. And, out of necessity, many other schools have made decisions similar to Shenandoah’s. Despite the fact that more than 70% of colleges and universities have some form of a test-optional admissions policy, we still hear from concerned parents and students that not having test scores somehow disadvantages them.
This is not the case. The National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) recently published a list of more than 565 colleges that have signed on to express that test-optional means just that. Please do not put your life or the life of your student at risk in order to take a test. It’s for this reason that we want to be totally clear — at Shenandoah tests are not needed and we are test-unnecessary.
Andy Woodall | Assistant Vice President of Recruitment & Admissions