Even before COVID-19 threw standardized testing into disarray, hundreds of colleges and universities had made SAT and ACT scores optional for admissions. Such policies, rooted in findings that the exams are unreliable in predicting college performance and favor wealthier students who can pay for expensive test preparation, surged during the pandemic as testing centers closed. More than 1,800 higher education institutions are test-optional for admissions this fall, with some even going test-blind and declining to look at exam scores altogether. Critics of standardized tests say test-optional policies boost minority and lower-income student populations, and that high school grades are a better indicator of college readiness. But some experts say test scores are more important than ever at a time when grade inflation has made high ...

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