- More than 1,700 colleges and universities so far are not requiring students to submit SAT and ACT scores when they apply for admission for fall 2023, only a slightly lower number of institutions than the previous admissions cycle.
- The latest count comes from FairTest, an organization advocating for limited applications of standardized assessments. At this time last year, FairTest had pinpointed more than 1,600 colleges not requiring standardized tests. It eventually identified more than 1,800 institutions that were not asking for entrance exam scores for fall 2022, including those that historically never mandated them.
- A few institutions that shifted to test-optional admissions in the pandemic’s early days have reverted to their previous policies, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University.
Some institutions had nixed SAT and ACT requirements before the COVID-19 health crisis. But the pandemic pushed the test-optional movement into overdrive as the coronavirus’s spread shut down traditional exam sites.
The significant number of colleges sticking with these policies — despite coronavirus-related concerns waning — suggests the assessments will have a permanently diminished role in admissions.
Critics of entrance exams argue they are racist academic barometers that cater to wealthy students who can afford extensive test preparation. Testing providers — the ACT and the College Board, which administers the SAT — have acknowledged admissions inequities but maintain their products do not reinforce these barriers. They say the tests provide low-income students opportunities to showcase their prowess in the classroom and facilitate scholarships.
In a statement, FairTest Executive Director Bob Schaeffer said institutions have found test-optional and test-free admissions to be effective. Test-optional colleges will accept scores from students who choose to submit them, while test-free institutions decline to review assessment scores for admissions whatsoever.
Schaeffer said in a separate email that FairTest expects the final tally of institutions not requiring test scores for next fall to be “quite close” to the fall 2022 number. He pointed out some colleges, such as those with religious affiliations, have not announced their admissions policies yet.
He said some institutions will not unveil their requirements until Aug. 1, when the latest iteration of the Common Application goes live. The Common App is an online portal that enables students to apply to many colleges.
Several prominent public institutions have preserved test-optional policies for the next few years or abandoned the admissions mandate altogether.
The University of North Carolina System isn’t requiring SAT or ACT scores for undergraduate admissions through fall 2024, citing a desire to remain competitive with peer institutions.
And both of California’s four-year university systems, University of California and California State University, permanently moved to test-free admissions. The California systems’ rejection of the exams represented a particularly major blow to their providers, as the state is a top testing market.
The University of Tennessee System, meanwhile, restored the admissions requirement this year for fall 2023 after lawmakers expressed disdain for a test-optional system.