Over two-thirds of bachelor’s-granting colleges won’t require SAT, ACT for fall 2022

by Emma

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Dive Brief:

  • More than two-thirds of bachelor’s degree-granting colleges won’t require SAT and ACT scores for at least some students for the fall 2022 admissions cycle, according to the latest count by FairTest.

  • The organization, which advocates for equitable uses of standardized assessments, tracked more than 1,600 four-year colleges that aren’t mandating entrance exams. That’s similar to last year but up from two years ago, when FairTest counted about 1,240 test-optional institutions.

  • Test-optional policies have grown more popular at colleges during the pandemic. But FairTest’s list also encompasses institutions that were test-optional prior to the pandemic and those whose admissions processes have never historically included the scores. 

Dive Insight:

As the health crisis shut down traditional testing sites such as K-12 schools, the the burgeoning trend of colleges not requiring the SAT and ACT for admissions accelerated. Although testing providers are still holding in-person tests, many colleges still piloted test-optional policies for multiple years. 

FairTest notes there were exceptions to these trends. Florida’s public colleges declined to shift to test-optional admissions at all, and the University System of Georgia announced in May that it would once again require scores for spring 2022.

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest’s executive director, said in a statement that his organization expects the number of test-optional institutions to continue growing “because the policy is a ‘win-win’ for both students and schools.” Eliminating testing requirements leads to more diverse classes but doesn’t cut academic quality, he said.

He noted nearly all competitive liberal arts schools and a majority of public institutions won’t be requiring test scores. 

The SAT and ACT have come under fire from critics who contend they favor White, affluent students who can afford extensive test-preparation services. Testing providers refute this idea. The College Board told Higher Ed Dive earlier this year that while “real inequities” exist in U.S. education, the “SAT itself is not a racist instrument.”

This was, however, part of the argument in a lawsuit against the University of California System. Civil rights groups said in court filings the tests were a barrier for low-income and other disadvantaged students for admissions.

The UC governing board voted in May 2020 to start phasing out the exams in admissions. In order to settle the lawsuit, the system agreed to not consider SAT and ACT scores at all through 2025.

California is one of the largest testing markets in the U.S., so the UC settlement dealt a significant blow to testing companies. A similar share of colleges were test-optional for fall 2021 admissions, according to FairTest.

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