Test-optional admissions defined the college application season for 2021, and lead to many competitive schools seeing record application numbers. A few colleges and universities that adopted the policy during the pandemic have decided to continue test-optional admissions for the foreseeable future. Other institutions are waiting for hard data to make a decision on whether to keep test-optional admissions or return to requiring SAT and ACT scores as was standard for college admissions before COVID-19. A new study reveals some positive trends for schools that went test-optional prior to pandemic.
The study, called “Untested Admissions: Examining Changes in Application Behaviors and Student Demographics Under Test-Optional Policies”, examines how test-optional admissions impacted enrollment at around 100 private colleges that adopted the policy between 2005-06 and 2015-16. The results show that making admissions test-optional increased the number of enrollments among underrepresented and minority students.
Specifically, the paper reveals that test-optional policies lead to a 3-4% increase in Pell Grant recipients, or students with the greatest financial need, a 10-12% increase in first-generation college students from underrepresented racial or ethnic backgrounds, and 6-8% increase in first-generation female students. In all, it seems removing tests score requirements made the admission and enrollment process more equitable.
Supporters of the test-optional admissions movement will be heartened by these numbers. It is important to note, however, that most of the institutions that implemented test-optional admissions before the pandemic had time to plan and prepare for these changes, rather than the quick adoption of test-optional admissions in the past year.
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