By Izabella Santana
Getting up at 6 a.m. to take a 4-to 5-hour test is not how some students want to spend a Saturday. But starting in high school, if they want to get into a top university, that is a sacrifice they will have to make. About 850 colleges are test-optional, but some
of them, and mostly those with competitive admissions, still care about test results, says Stephanie Meade, owner of the higher education planning service The Collegiate Edge.
But no matter which college a student is applying to, the SAT can be crucial in a student’s application.
“Colleges should focus on extracurricular activities and school work rather than standardized tests,” said Middle College High School senior Jonathan Ayala, who is planning to apply to both the University of California and California State University
campuses, including UC Irvine and CSU Fullerton.
Before applying for colleges, students are strongly encouraged to take the SAT. The pressure to do well on standardized tests reflects the importance given to what experts say is a small, biased measure of intelligence.
Standardized evaluations represent only a small portion of a student’s skills, says Robert J. Sternberg in his book College Admissions for the 21st Century.
Because college deans are realizing this, the Ivy Leagues such as Harvard, Yale and Stanford are beginning to make the SAT optional or are abolishing the requirement.
In California, each school weighs the tests differently. Haydee Gonzales, SAC Transfer Center Specialist, explained the difference in admission requirements between the CSUand UC systems.
“For Cal States, generally, it’s the GPA they’re looking for and a lot has to do with your major,” Gonzales said. When applying to a Cal State, for example, a minimum 3.0 GPA is part of the student’s eligibility index.
This calculation includes the student’s GPA times 800 plus their SAT score. Depending on the eligibility index, students are categorized by academic record rather than by contributions to their school and volunteer work.
However, the UCs are looking for more diversity, including extracurricular activities and leadership roles.
“UCs look not only at GPA but also at personal statements, any internships, or any experience outside of academic that shows either leadership or shows they’re taking initiative towards their major,” Gonzales said.