Heather Williams, Contributing Writier

How important are SAT scores when applying for colleges? This is a question that lies in the mind of every high school student, especially around this time of year. There are over 800 colleges that are now becoming test optional, which means they will not count SAT scores when deciding on admission of students.

As stated by Hampshire College, “We care more about what you can do in 4 years of high school, not 4 hours on a Saturday morning.” So if this is the growing idea at different colleges throughout the country, then why are some states suddenly making the SAT’s a requirement for high school students?

The news of the required SAT testing has surfaced shortly after the company that administers the SAT, College Board, announced that they are redesigning the test. With this updated version of the exam, first available on March 5, 2016, students will have an optional essay, more relevant vocabulary, and no penalty for incorrect answers. Most colleges will accept scores from the previous version until January 2018.

According to the president of College Board, David Coleman, redesigning the exam will give more opportunities to students who can’t afford to take the SAT, as well as making the test more focused and relevant for each person who takes it. College Board decided to rebuild each section of the SAT in order to accommodate students of all backgrounds, income levels, and regions.

In a press release, Coleman stated that students who take the new, redesigned SATs will be judged on a fairer, more open scale, to give more opportunities to everyone taking the test.

College Board says that the redesigned SAT will produce results that are more important to high school students rather than colleges. After reaching out to College Board, the company said, “ Working together, this assessment will provide benchmarks and consistent feedback for measuring students’ progress over time, allowing teachers and counselors to accelerate students who are either ahead or behind.”

This redesigned exam is supposed to better reflect what students learn in the classroom. In states where the SAT is required in high school, students are able to use these scores to apply to colleges, even if the university has a test optional policy.

There are currently well over 800 colleges in the US that are test optional, meaning that they do not require SAT scores from applicants. Instead, they will judge their students based on other requirements such as extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and grade history.

According to a representative from Bryant University in Rhode Island, “While we recognize that standardized tests accurately measure aptitude for many students, there are many still whose talents are not measured by such tests.”

Test flexible colleges like Bryant University all agree that eliminating test scores leads to “more educational opportunities” for students. Instead, they will be judged on a much fairer scale in order to accommodate low income students, as well as those who are just not good test takers.

So this means that students that are currently in high school are still going to apply to colleges the exact same way, whether the school is test optional or test required. However, states that are now making the SAT a mandatory test will use the results to compare the intellectual levels of different students.

Nicole Dunning, a senior at Lewis Mills High School says, “When I was applying to my top schools, I noticed that some of them didn’t require the test scores. I sent them in anyways, but I was surprised.” However, this policy is receiving mixed reactions from others.

“I think this adds more pressure when we’re applying to schools,” says Lewis Mills senior, Heather Carmody. “Then you know they’re looking more at your transcript and I know I didn’t do too well in other years.”

For some colleges, this exam will no longer affect the application process, unless the student wants to include their information. Although it is expected that more schools will be dropping the requirement of SAT scores, states among the US are expected to involve the exam into their education standards, to serve as a basis for learning among different regions.