- Purdue University, one of the most prominent public institutions in the U.S., is restoring its admissions requirements that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores, starting for those who want to enroll in fall 2024, it said Tuesday.
- “The evidence is clear that test scores provide essential information,” Kris Wong Davis, the university’s vice provost for enrollment management, said in a statement. Davis did not explain the evidence further but said tests allow the university to "ensure the optimal chance of success" for admitted students.
- Even though submitting test scores was optional in fall 2022, more than 80% of Purdue’s admitted students did so. It enrolled 50,884 students in total this fall.
Purdue, in Indiana, is breaking from many institutions in requiring entrance exam scores.
For fall 2023, more than 1,830 colleges and universities are test-optional, meaning they don’t force applicants to send their scores, or test-free, meaning they decline to review exam results whatsoever. That count is according to anti-assessment group FairTest, which tracks these trends. Its tally includes colleges that never historically required scores.
Several dozen colleges have also announced extensions of their flexible testing rules through fall 2024.
The proliferation of test-optional policies stems from the spread of the coronavirus, which shuttered exam sites in 2020. Most colleges did not return to testing mandates, even as COVID-19-related restrictions eased.
But Purdue was never enthusiastic about its temporary abandonment of assessments. It declared itself “test flexible” and still encouraged students to send scores. Nearly three-fourths of Purdue applicants had submitted test results, the university said.
Purdue’s return to assessment requirements was recommended by administrators and then endorsed by the university’s trustees, it said.
A Purdue spokesperson did not respond to questions Wednesday about its reasoning for reinstating testing mandates.
Other colleges have reinstated standardized testing policies. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, announced in March it would resume testing requirements. It cited internal research showing standardized test scores helped predict students’ academic success at the university, especially in mathematics.
Enrollment experts have said colleges’ disparate approaches to test-optional policies were confusing for applicants and their families.
Entrance exam opponents argue broadly the tests exacerbate admissions barriers for historically underrepresented applicants, as wealthier students can afford extensive tutoring to help secure a high score.
Research has shown modest improvements in campus diversity following adoption of test-optional admissions. However, enrollment managers stress these policies aren’t a silver bullet for fixing middling campus diversity.
Testing providers — the ACT, which shares the name of the exam it administers, and the College Board, which runs the SAT — have conceded educational inequities exist but maintain their products do not contribute to them. Instead, they argue their tests can enable overlooked students to stand out.