Yesterday, George Washington University joined the growing list of colleges that do not mandate applicants submit SAT or ACT test scores.
The Washington, D.C. university is one of the largest and most well-known schools to join the group of over 850 schools that currently have test-optional policies for admission, according to the Washington Post. This year alone, 20 universities, including elite liberal arts college Wesleyan University, have dropped their requirements for standardized testing in an effort to encourage more students to apply for admission.
While most selective universities still require an SAT or ACT submission, GWU and other schools say they’ve noticed that too many students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, don’t apply because they assume their mediocre test scores will fail to foster a letter of approval. Karen Stroud Felton, dean of admissions for GWU, told the Post:
“Although we have long employed a holistic application review process, we had concerns that students who could be successful at GW felt discouraged from applying if their scores were not as strong as their high school performance. We want outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds – regardless of their standardized scores – to recognize GW as a place where they can thrive.”
Martha Blevins Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest University, which has been successful at recruiting more minority students since forgoing standardized test score requirements, said of her school’s banishment of sanctioned tests:
“We find much more value in a student’s accomplishments in four years of high school than in four hours of Saturday testing.”
With the standardized testing provision now revoked at many schools, it would seem safe to predict more schools jumping on board. However, ACT President Jon L. Erickson predicts no such trend:
“I’m not seeing it. […] I have to question why having less information to make a decision is a good thing. To me, for a good decision, you want as much information as possible.”
According to GWU, which ranked 54th on U.S. News and World Report’s most recent university ranking list, exceptions to their test-optional policy are students who were home-schooled during high school, students from high schools that only provide narrative evaluation, college athletes, and seven-year program applicants.
Other well-regarded schools that do not currently require standardized test scores for admission include Bowdoin College, Bryn Mawr, New York University, University of Texas – Austin, and Union College.