Busting standardized testing myths: a conversation with Bright Horizons College Coach

Megan Stubbendeck, CEO of ArborBridge, recently joined Elizabeth Heaton of Bright Horizons College Coach for a segment of "Getting In: A College Coach Conversation.” Beth and Megan discussed the most common rumors they hear about the SAT and ACT.

Watch Beth and Megan's full conversation below or read on for a sample of their discussion.


BETH HEATON There's a lot going on around standardized tests these days, especially with some schools, like the University of California system going completely test free, but we're not talking about that. Instead, what we do want to talk about are some of the myths that surround standardized testing because we do know that there are many students out there who are still going to do tests. My son did standardized tests this past year, and he worked with ArborBridge, which is one reason why I'm extra excited to welcome our next guest, who happens to be the CEO of ArborBridge, and her name is Megan Stubbendeck, and she's going to talk to us about tests. Hi, Megan.

MEGAN STUBBENDECK Hey, Beth. Thanks for having me again. I always love coming and talking with you about tests and college admissions. It's great. 

BETH Absolutely. You are our favorite when it comes to this subject, so, happy to have you here. And I want to jump right in. I said we weren't really going to talk much about test optional—I sort of lied a little bit—but the first myth I think that we come across, and with more frequency, is either the idea that no one needs to take the SAT or the ACT or everyone needs to take the SAT and the ACT. And so I'd love to get your thoughts on this one.

MEGAN Yeah, and so as we go through each of these myths, I think one of the easiest ways to tackle them is to talk about where these myths even come from, what the source is, and then we'll lay down some truth. What is the actual reality of the world? You really hit the nail on the head when it comes to test optional. That's really the source. All of these changes that have been happening at the University of California system, University of Chicago, Harvard even came out—for the next four years, they're going to be test optional, too. There's a lot of change going on, particularly because of COVID. Over the last two to three years, we've got a lot of new policies coming out, and test optional is the big one.

Test optional just means that a school doesn't require that you send a test score—an SAT or ACT score—but you can if you want to add it to your application. So, that's causing this sort of two polar opposites: either you never have to take it or everyone still has to take it.

And so the truth here that we come down to is it largely depends. There's actually a really big gray spot in the middle. It's not black or white right now. And that's actually probably for the benefit of most students. You can kind of pick what's going to work best for you. And so it really depends on things like your GPA, your intended major, the colleges that you're planning to apply to, how you compare with the kids at your school, or how you compare to kids going to that college and applying there. There's a lot of moving pieces, and what we're finding from the test prep end is that most students are still taking these exams just so they've got a score in their toolbox when it comes to application season. Yes, they may submit them. Maybe they don't. Maybe they submit to some schools and not all of them.

Watch Megan and Beth’s full conversation here to learn more about 

  • whether the SAT and ACT are IQ tests
  • whether colleges prefer the SAT or the ACT
  • whether you need to be good at science to ace the ACT


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About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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