- Applicants to Louisiana’s public colleges who have earned a certain number of college credits or an associate degree no longer need to submit standardized test scores for admission.
- The Louisiana Board of Regents last week approved the new avenues for admissions. Applicants must complete a high school program and demonstrate proficiency in either mathematics or English. However, they no longer need to provide scores on assessments like the ACT or SAT if they have received an associate degree or college credits.
- Students can also instead earn a high enough GPA on a number of “core” high school courses to qualify for admissions. The thresholds of the required GPA, number of college credits or test score varies, depending on the institution — the admissions standards for Louisiana State University, the flagship institution, are the most stringent, for instance.
The coronavirus pandemic accelerated a movement to weaken standardized testing mandates in college admissions. Several institutions prior to the spread of COVID-19 had adopted test-optional or test-free policies, the latter referring to colleges that decline to review assessment scores at all. But test-free and test-blind were not the norm.
Now, more than 1,700 colleges are not requiring SAT or ACT scores for the fall 2023 admissions cycle, according to the latest count by FairTest, an organization advocating for minimized uses of standardized exams.
Critics of entrance exams argue they reinforce barriers for disadvantaged students, namely low-income populations who can’t afford the same extensive test preparation as their wealthier counterparts.
The SAT and ACT have also been called racist instruments, an accusation the testing providers deny. Test providers and supporters have acknowledged education-related inequities, but said their products are not to blame. On the contrary, they argue, the tests help connect students to scholarship opportunities.
With pandemic-related restrictions having eased, institutions are considering the future of entrance exams.
Since 2013, Louisiana law requires all high school students to take the ACT, regardless of if they’re pursuing college.
However, the Louisiana regents’ latest move appears to reflect a diminished admissions role for the ACT and SAT. Previously, a student must have earned a high enough total score on one of those tests to qualify for admissions.
Officials cast the new admissions pathway as helping achieve the state’s goal of doubling the number of awarded credentials annually by 2030.
“We are proud to adopt this first-in-the-nation approach to expanding college admission opportunities,” Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed said in a statement. “As we advance the practice of blurring the lines between high school and college for students, it makes sense to acknowledge successful completion of advanced coursework in college admission decisions.”
Admissions requirements vary by institution, though all students must show proficiency in either mathematics or English, including by scoring high enough in those subject areas on the ACT, SAT or similar exam.
Applicants have to meet one of the following standards for admission to one of the state’s regional public institutions, like Southeastern Louisiana University:
- At least a 2.0 GPA on the state’s core high school courses.
- 12 early college credits with at least a 2.0 GPA.
- An associate degree.
- At least a 20 on the ACT, or the SAT equivalent.
The top score on the ACT is a 36.
The admissions requirements to the state’s historically Black institutions are almost the same, except applicants only need to earn nine early college credits.
The thresholds for admission to the flagship Louisiana State campus are either at least a 3.0 GPA on core classes, or 18 early college credits with a 2.5 GPA, or an associate degree, or at least an ACT score of 25.