Colleges Extend Test Optional Policy to Current Junior Class

After Cornell University announced that it will be suspending the SAT/ACT requirement for both the classes of 2021 and 2022 applicants it was followed by many other schools. Last week Penn State announced that it will extend its test-optional policies through 2023 and later Columbia University extended its test-optional policy for the 2021-22 academic year citing continued disruptions in standardized test-taking availability to students.

Here is an updated list of schools that are either temporarily or permanently test-optional.

The list of schools going test-optional temporarily or permanently continues to expand. Rice UniversityCornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania, and Boston College also announced that test-optional admissions policies would be extended for at least another year. While colleges such as Williams College, and Amherst College are extending test-optional policies through 2023. So far, hundreds of schools have gone test-optional for another year.

The number of colleges requiring standardized test scores for admissions has been on the decline for decades. But the pandemic and the difficulties it created over the administration of the exam forced the hand of schools, many of whom were already reassessing the utility and equity of standardized testing.

Cornell announced test-optional applications to continue through at least 2022

Schools that make early announcements help high school juniors who may be having trouble sitting a test this spring because of Covid related cancellations.

In explaining its decision the Cornell Admissions Office explains,

Many teens have gone to extraordinary lengths to take the SAT/ACT this year, traveling to other states and locations far from home. Some have done so in situations that may have been risky for their health.

Cornell Admissions

Cornell Admissions is asking members of the class of 2022 not to take such risks and urges students to, “Please do not feel you need to take exams unless you are able to take the exam locally near your home and you feel safe in doing so.

Cornell made it clear that they are not, at this time, adopting a test-optional admissions policy on a permanent basis. Students may still submit their exam scores if they have them and are satisfied with their results. They further explained that prospective athletes will be subject to the rules about testing set by the Ivy League and that has yet to be determined.

This year’s high school juniors have been hard hit by the pandemic with their sophomore and junior years disrupted. Many would have taken SAT/ACT exams over the course of this academic year but have been unable to find an open testing site.

Recently the University of California Board of Regents amended an earlier press release saying, “Subsequent events have changed how the University of California will evaluate applications for Fall 2021 admissions. UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships.”

These test-optional announcements are a welcome acknowledgment of the challenges teens have faced. One unsurprising result of the test-optional applications to selective universities was that applications skyrocketed this year.  

Questions remain over whether or not test-optional college admissions are here to stay or just a band-aid for a temporary problem. Is this a 2 to 3-year phenomenon or something much more permanent?

More to Read:

Breaking News: Selective Colleges Push Back Decision Day Due to Soaring Applications

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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