Public universities waive SAT/ACT test requirement

Star Diavolikis, Senior Reporter

Applicants in fall 2021 will not need to provide SAT or ACT test scores to apply to CWU, according to a decision made by the Washington State Council of Presidents after assessing how the pandemic has affected students going from high school to a university. A tweet posted by the Council of Presidents on Jan. 19 shared the announcement.

“All of Washington’s public four-year college and universities are integrating flexibility into admissions processes to ease, to the extent possible, the disruption of COVID-19 for fall 2021 applicants,” the announcement stated.

The efforts of flexibility include SAT and SAT test scores not being required for fall 2021 freshman applicants, and not submitting a score will not be a disadvantage. Admissions offices need to be flexible if applicants do not have the required high school course credits and need to use multiple measures to review the entirety of the student’s application.

According to the announcement, institutions included in this announcement are CWU, EWU, Evergreen, UW, WSU and WWU.

“We are here collectively, and as individual colleges and universities, to help current and future students achieve their goals, navigate this crisis, and take advantage of Washington’s investment in a four-year college or university education,” the announcement stated.

Vice President of Enrollment Josh Hibbard said the decision to remove test scores was made by the Faculty Senate back in spring 2020, when the pandemic first started to affect educational processes, including being able to test.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Faculty Senate passed legislation to temporarily remove the SAT/ACT test requirement for undergraduate CWU admission since many SAT/ACT exams were being canceled,” a letter sent from the ASCWU addressed to the Office of the Provost from June 12, 2020 said.

ASCWU President Mickael Candelaria said this change will be an overall positive change for future applicants.

“I 110% believe we will, one, admit more incoming students and two, increase access to higher education through that,” Candelaria said. “I’m really excited to see the positive results.” 

Hibbard believes removing the testing requirement for 2021 applicants can possibly increase the enrollment numbers for the upcoming year.

“Removing the test score barrier will certainly support students applying to [CWU], especially those who were unable to take the test due to the pandemic,” Hibbard said.

With the decision to waive the test scores for 2020 and 2021, there is the question of if SAT and ACT scores can be removed from the application process altogether. 

According to the CWU admissions webpage, before this decision was made, if an applicant had a GPA of 3.0 or higher a test score was not required. An SAT or ACT score was needed for students who did not meet College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR) for the review process.

On April 11, 2020, Hibbard sent a memo to Faculty Senate Chairman Walter Szeliga recommending SAT and ACT scores be removed from the admissions process.

“The purpose of this memo is to recommend that Central Washington University removes SAT/ACT testing from the standard admissions review process,” the memo stated. “Much has been written to support the removal of standardized tests in the admissions review process.”

In the memo, Hibbard provided a link to a paper written by Oregon State University’s Vice Provost Jon Boeckenstedt. This paper provided four main points discussing why removing standardized tests in the admissions review process was beneficial.

Points discussed include standardized tests cannot predict freshman grades, equity issues are present, time spent preparing for the test can take away from ongoing education and these tests have a racist history.

Candelaria supports the decision to remove these test scores from the usual admissions process.

“A lot of the time, people forget testing, especially standardized testing, is a barrier for some students,” Candelaria said. “Especially students who come from historically marginalized communities … Some people either can’t afford to take, retake, or get those test results in, so they just completely decide not to attend college because that can be a barrier. So, I’m hopeful that removing this barrier will increase our enrollment in future years.”

Hibbard supports the decision to remove these test scores from the admissions process as well.

“Standardized tests aren’t helpful in predicting expression in grades,” Hibbard said. “There’s quite a bit of concern around equity and we know that people, typically with the most social, economic and political capital, are the ones that benefit from tests the most and continue to ensure that those tests remain important.”