Education Redesigned for Forward-Thinking Families

The University of California is phasing out the SAT and ACT. What does this mean for your college admissions strategy in 2021 and beyond?


We are living in unprecedented times. Between the pandemic and civil unrest, and all the second-order effects of major world events, where does that leave students seeking admission to a high-quality university?

The University of California recently decided to phase out the SAT over the next five years and possibly transition to a new form of assessment testing. This goes even further than what was announced months before.

Before the U of C was going “test optional” and still accepted SAT/ACT scores if they were submitted. With the new announcement, they will not accept those scores at all after the Fall 2022 admissions cycle.

Some other prestigious universities across America are moving towards “test-optional” or even “test-not-accepted” admissions. The trend is moving strongly away from traditional performance measures in elite college admissions.

So if colleges are moving away from standardized tests in admissions, what are they moving *towards*?

The answer is unconventional, non-standardized measures of a student’s personal development, interests, and ambitions. Families that were stressing out about SAT/ACT prep before can redirect those efforts towards developing a student’s personal interests and skills in a non-compulsory fashion.

Prepare for changes in the higher education landscape

To prepare for these changes, I recommend families..

  1. Understand why the needle is moving
  2. Prepare students for a world where they are not evaluated by tests

First: understand why things are changing right now

The needle has been moving away from SAT/ACT testing for some months now due to a variety of factors.

COVID-19 was likely the most recent catalyst that comes on the heels of other factors to move away from the SAT/ACT. The pandemic not only created difficulties in proctoring the test, but school shutdowns created gaps in learning for many students. To evaluate them all with the same standard doesn’t account for how well their education system performed in a time of crisis.

Years before the pandemic, there has already been a national discussion about the role and implications of SAT/ACT requirements for college admissions.

Some have argued that they are standardized and, therefore, reduce bias in college admissions. Others have argued that they exacerbate inequities in the education system by favoring families who can afford test-prep services.

Even before the pandemic, the latter group had been gradually winning the debate, and was driving the move away from the SAT/ACT.

Amidst that backdrop, the pandemic created significant logistical difficulties in proctoring, administering and preparing for the SAT/ACT, along with educational disruptions in the lives of many high school students. This likely created ripple effects in how they performed on the test. Recently there was also a lawsuit filed against the use of this test.

Prepare students for a world where they are not evaluated by tests

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzsky once said, "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Here at Galileo, we envision where the puck is going to be 1-5 years in the future. That’s why the school is designed to approach education without using grades and standardized testing. Students choose which learning experiences they want to participate in based on their own interests and passions. They get to engage with of a love of learning, not any sort of compulsion or pressure to get a good grade or test score.

Future Thinking leads to kids being prepared for the unknown

It's safe to say that studying for the SAT/ACT is not as critical a component for your college application as it would have been 5 years ago.

The weight that colleges used to assign to the SAT/ACT, they will re-assign to a student’s extracurriculars, essays, and personal explorations like the ones we do at Galileo. We are ushering in an era where students are not evaluated as numerical scores on a sheet of paper, but as creative individuals with passions, projects, and new ideas.

Top colleges have had enough of reading student essays where the student had nothing to write about except spending their years studying for good grades and high test scores.

The essays and resumes that stand out will be the ones that showcase a student’s passions, and tangible creations and pursuits they developed in alignment with those passions. But traditional schooling has historically fallen very short when it comes to supporting students in exploring their passions.

Traditional schools have enforced conformity and compliance over creativity. This is how and why Galileo is different. We curate a colorful selection of meaningful, fun, and purposeful courses taught by the best instructors in each space.

Students can choose from a rich buffet of learning experiences tailored to their interests and talents, and from there develop a rich portfolio of skills and accomplishments. That will stand out every time from the pack of students who had to spend all their time studying for the SAT/ACT.

The factory model of test-driven, grade-getting schooling is on its way out. Join the future of education and professional life with Galileo.

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