More and more colleges are making standardized tests like the ACT and SAT optional for admissions, so does that make these scores less important?
The answer is complicated, but overall test scores still bear a lot of weight in evaluating a student's application for admission. There are about 850 universities and colleges that are test-optional, but this is still less than a third of all 4-year higher education institutions in the country. The vast majority of universities require either an ACT or SAT score during the application process.
Schools across the country rank how important test scores are in their admissions decisions from "very important" to "not considered". Yale lists test scores as being "very important" and the University of Michigan lists them as "important" which gives prospective students an idea as to what a broad range of schools is looking for in an applicant.
Many colleges and universities place a higher importance on students being well-rounded and not just having high test scores. They look for students involved in extracurricular activities, athletics, etc. There will always be a high focus on an applicant's GPA, with many institutions weighing GPA more than SAT or ACT scores.
Overall, it depends on the institution you are applying to and how they measure success. It is important for students to research what the school of their choosing values most and shape their experience with that consideration in mind.