A shift towards more relevance for standardized testing?

Navigating the SAT Debate

Explore the NYT article addressing the impact of standardized testing on college admissions.

Here at Revolution Prep, we are always monitoring the landscape around college admissions – and there’s been some significant movement lately. Check out this recent New York Times article examining the use of standardized testing in the college application process: The Misguided War on the SAT.

What we’re seeing from this article, and its key quotes from admissions leaders at highly selective private institutions, is that those schools who reject far more than they admit are potentially signaling a shift in how tests will be used moving forward.

Here’s how we’re reading these signals at highly selective colleges for students of different grade levels: 

Sophomores and younger

Expect the unexpected – between now and when they’ll be applying to college, we may see more significant movement in testing policies. 


Over the coming months before applications are due next fall, keep an eye on admissions websites for any policy shifts around testing at highly selective institutions.


No adjustment needed around testing or deciding whether or not to send – they’re either done or close to it!


The author followed up with some more commentary in the NYT’s morning newsletter, including a response from Melissa Kearny, a University of Maryland professor, who notes that: “…standardized tests have become another policy instance where doing what ‘feels good’ turns out to be counterproductive.” 

From our standpoint, having helped tens of thousands of families achieve their best outcomes on not only standardized tests but also in academic coursework, the shift in testing policy to decrease the emphasis on standardized tests has been a mixed blessing: 

  1. It has provided an alternate pathway for some students to put their best foot forward, without standardized testing… 
  2. …but it’s also created a lot of confusion about whether to send scores, and many selective colleges have been deliberately vague about how exactly they’re using test scores (or their absence!) in their test-optional process.  

As always, we’re ready and able to assist you and your family with anything you need, and we’ll continue to share important information as we come across it. 


      Ben Neely, Chief Research and Impact Officer, Revolution Prep

Ben Neely serves as Revolution Prep’s Chief Research and Impact Officer, learning and speaking about admissions testing and the challenges students face in striving for academic excellence. After beginning his career as a high school math teacher, Ben has held roles in curriculum development and engineering management, and has spent more than 20 years helping families make their best decisions around the learning process. Ben earned his B.A. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley and has been with Revolution Prep for 15 years.