PSU makes SAT/ACT tests optional for Summer/Fall, 2021

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ)–One of the longtime benchmarks used by most colleges and universities in the admissions process are SAT or ACT test scores.

However, Monday, Penn State announced that students applying for the Summer/Fall 2021 semesters will have the option not to take either test.

Why?

PSU is looking to reduce stress for these applicants.

Most SAT and ACT tests scheduled over the past three months were cancelled due to Covid-19 (the spring of a high school student’s Junior year is one of the most popular times to take the test).

Penn State doesn’t want students scrambling to take either test late in the year, hence they’ve made them optional.

A student’s perspective

“It caused a lot of stress,” said Hannah Ternent, a Junior in the Bald Eagle Area School District.

Her SAT test in March was cancelled one day before its scheduled date.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to re-take it given the situation we’re in,” Ternent said.

High school students around the country are experiencing the same stress in rushing to take the test. But, Penn State hopes making the test optional alleviates worries.

“It’s a very big relief for me… that’s one less thing for me to worry about,” Ternent said.

Penn State said they use a student’s four-year academic performance in high school as the main indicator of success–this takes precedent over one day in a test room.

“She may not take a good test, but she’s got the skills required to be a good student and be successful,” said Rhonda Ternent, Hannah’s mother.

Rhonda said her daughter is in the top 10% of her class, and has a strong GPA… feeling these numbers (representing three-to-four years of work) often mean more than an SAT or ACT score.

However, others told WTAJ that high school grades are not necessarily a decent measure for success. Some feel that not all high schools are created equal… and that an ‘A’ in one school’s class may be the equivalent to a ‘B’ in another school’s class.

Those with this opinion feel a unified test, such as the SAT or ACT is a fairer measure of knowledge since GPA strength among different schools may vary.

Some PSU students will still have to take the SAT/ACT

According to PSU’s Admissions website Tuesday, home-schooled students and some international students will have to take either the SAT or ACT test (which are now beginning to be offered once again).

Some programs (potentially scholarship programs) may require students to take the SAT or ACT test too.

“One of my bigger concerns is merit-based aid…because that relies heavily on your SAT scores…and scholarships in general,” Hannah Ternent said.

She said she is still planning on taking the SAT test this year.

Equal Playing Field

WTAJ asked Penn State if taking either the SAT or ACT test will be a “difference-maker” in situations where two students (or more) are otherwise considered equal (Example: one student took the SAT or ACT test, and the other did not–but they have the same GPA and other credentials).

WTAJ has not yet received a response from Penn State.

“I hope that everyone is seen on an equal playing field… but I would understand that if it came down to me and someone else who had the opportunity to take the SAT.. and they got accepted and I didn’t. There would be some harsh feelings, but I would be ok with that in the long run… knowing that I didn’t get the opportunity, I still tried my best and did what I could,” Hannah Ternent said.

Applications for the Summer/Fall, 2021 at PSU will first be accepted August, 1.

On the application, students can indicate if they want their SAT/ACT test scores considered as part of the admissions process.

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