More Colleges, Universities Downplay Admissions Tests

University Testing

FairTest Examiner, October 2012

As another college application season gets underway, five more schools have announced policies that deemphasize ACT and SAT scores in the admissions process. Ithaca College, the College of Saint Rose, Lees-McRae College, and William Jewell College all became test-optional. The University of Rochester is now test-flexible.

Ithaca College (IC) in upstate New York ranks among the top ten regional schools in the northeast. A statement on the test-optional decision explained, “[R]esearch on our past applicant pools and the performance of IC students demonstrates that a student’s standardized test score adds little predictive accuracy in understanding his or her subsequent success at Ithaca College.” Interestingly, Ithaca College President Tom Rochon, who approved the plan, previously led the Graduate Record Exam program at the Educational Testing Service.

At the College of Saint Rose in Albany, the test-optional policy is a three-year pilot. School president Dr. R. Mark Sullivan said, “Saint Rose has always been known as a community where students receive personal attention. By removing the test requirement, we let them know that their character, talent and individual achievements mean far more to us than numbers on a standardized test.”

Beginning with the class entering Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina next fall, “ACT/SAT scores are not required for students who feel these exams do not adequately represent their academic abilities.” Instead, Lees-McRae “will approach admissions holistically, taking into consideration many factors when reviewing applicants.”

Students with high school grade point averages of 3.0 or higher can now apply to William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, without test scores. The schools website states, “Our own observation of successful students and graduates supports research that demonstrates that factors other than test scores are better indicators of potential for success in the classroom and the College community.”

Finally, the University of Rochester joins a handful of selective institutions with “test-flexible” policies. In place of admissions test scores, applicants can submit results from Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams. Dean of Admissions Jonathan Burdick said that the change demonstrates a commitment to holistic review. He noted, “Rochester, like many universities, values diverse ways of thinking—and diverse experiences—more than students realize." Other schools that allow alternative exams to substitute for the ACT and SAT include Bryn Mahr, Colby, Colorado, Hamilton, and Middlebury colleges plus New York University.

The full list of bachelor-degree granting institutions that do not require ACT/SAT scores from all or many applicants is available free online at: