With online SAT on hold, universities drop test requirements

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After the College Board’s announcement earlier this month that it’s postponing its online SAT, some universities are relaxing their standardized test requirements for admission.

Among them is the University of Texas at Austin, which announced Tuesday it will “temporarily” change its standardized test score requirement.

“This is a student-centered decision,” Miguel Wasilewsky, the executive director of admissions at the University of Texas at Austin, told UT News. “During this time of uncertainty for students and high schools, we are focused on working with students to support their next steps toward college. Suspending this requirement ensures that students have the information they need to complete their application for admission.”

UT Austin joins a growing list of schools that have decided not to require the SAT or other standardized tests, like the ACT, for admission. The Univeristy of Minnesota Duluth, Ohio State University and all Ivy League schools have done the same in recent months.

By suspending the standardized testing requirement for applicants, the UT Austin will “better serve potential students by ensuring that testing limitations related to COVID-19 do not affect a student’s ability to apply,” the university said.

So far, UT Austin’s suspension will only apply to applicants for fall 2021 admission. These applicants would need to take the SAT over the next several months in order to qualify — a task deemed almost impossible due to individual states’ stay-at-home orders associated with the pandemic. University administrators said the requirement will be reinstated for fall 2022 admission, but that could change if there is “continued disruption” to standardized testing accessibility.

“There are more important things than tests right now,” David Coleman, College Board CEO, said in a statement announcing the pause on offering an at-home SAT and encouraging universities to relax their testing requirements. “In making these difficult decisions, we focused on reducing the anxiety that students and families are experiencing this year.”

While most of these decisions have been temporary and directly related to the ongoing coronavius pandemic, some universities are phasing out the requirements completely. The University of California announced it would end the SAT requirement for admission completely in 2025, opting instead to create its own test.

“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University,” John Perez, chair of the University of California Board of Regents, said in a press release announcing the change. “I see our role as fiduciaries and stewards of the public good and this proposal before us is an incredible step in the right direction.”

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