According to FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, reports from admissions offices across the country show very positive results from eliminating or providing flexibility in ACT/SAT score submission requirements:
• At Pitzer College, 72% of the students admitted to the class of 2016 and 63% of the entire applicant pool did not submit SAT or ACT scores.
• Wake Forest University reported that the number of students of color in its entering classes jumped from 16% to 22% in its first three years as test-optional.
• A 5-year pilot study at Salisbury University showed test-optional students perform as well as their classmates and graduation rates of test-optional students are slightly higher.
• SUNY Potsdam experienced a surge in applications after adopting a test-optional admissions policy, from 4,525 in 2009 to 5,097 in 2011.
Most test-optional schools report between one-third and one-half of their applicants withhold scores. And no quality is sacrificed in terms of academic achievement or rates of retention and graduation. In fact, improvements have been noted by those schools closely following student outcomes.
It’s generally conceded that the move to test-optional admissions is labor-intensive and requires a true holistic approach to application review. Colleges have to believe in the benefits to the campus community as a whole.
Many, like American University, DePaul and Salisbury University start with pilot programs, but soon adopt permanent policies as the multiple benefits of dropping required testing from admissions become evident especially with the growing diversity of admitted classes.
The following are ten “ranked” universities that successfully implemented either test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies (liberal arts colleges are listed here):
American University, DC
Students within the United States who do not wish to submit standardized test scores as part of their application may do so provided they completed all of the following by their chosen test-optional deadline:
- submit the test-optional form
- submit their complete application
- submit all supporting documents (including fee, recommendations, essay, and extracurricular activities)
Applying under the test-optional program will not affect consideration for merit awards or admission to the University Honors Program.
Clark University, Worcester MA
Beginning with students applying for the fall 2013 semester, Clark has instituted a SAT/ACT optional policy. Applicants are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT scores; instead it is up to applicants to decide if they want to submit scores or not.
De Paul University
De Paul University, Chicago IL
Students applying for freshman admission can choose whether or not to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the application. Students who do not submit test scores will be required to send responses to several short essay questions.
George Mason University, Fairfax VA
Score optional review provides an opportunity for applicants to be considered for admission without submitting or in disregard of standardized test scores. In general, successful score optional candidates will submit academic credentials that exhibit the following:
- a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
- evidence of strong performance in a challenging academic curriculum
- an actual or estimated class rank in the top 20%
- strong leadership and motivation as demonstrated in extracurricular, work, or service experiences
New York University, New York NY
To be eligible for admission, applicants are expected to submit results from one of the following test options (test-flexible):
- The SAT Reasoning Test; or
- The ACT with Writing Test; or
- Three SAT Subject Test scores; or
- Three AP exam scores; or
- The International Baccalaureate Diploma; or
- Three IB higher-level exam scores (for candidates); or
- Results from a nationally accredited exam that is considered locally to signify completion of secondary education, is administered independently of the student’s school, and has been approved by NYU.
University of Arizona
University of Arizona, Tucson AZ
Applicants from Arizona who are in the top 25% of their class may be admitted to the university without test scores but will not be considered for UA scholarships or admission to the Honors College. SAT/ACT test scores may also be required by specific departments or majors and/or placement into foundation coursework at orientation.
University of Houston
University of Houston, Houston TX
Under the Assured Admissions program, students in the top 10% of their graduating class (fall 2014 applicants) and who apply by December 1 are automatically accepted.
University of Mississippi, Oxford MS
Mississippi residents who complete the state’s College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC) are automatically admitted if they have a 3.2 high school GPA.
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC
Wake Forest is the first top 30 national university in the US to make standardized tests optional in the admissions process. If you feel your scores are a good indicator of your abilities, you may submit them and they will be considered. However, if you feel your scores do not accurately represent your academic abilities, you do not need to submit them until after you enroll.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester MA
Beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2008, the submission of standardized tests is optional for admission. Students who choose not to submit scores are required to submit alternative materials via the Flex Path option that they believe will better reflect their potential for academic success at WPI.