Aug 15, 2009

AU Launches Pilot Test Optional Program

Launching a pilot program targeted to Early Decision candidates, American University (AU) will no longer require submission of either SAT or ACT scores for Early Decision applications. Joining other colleges experimenting with creative ways to diminish the importance of standardized testing in the college admissions process, the AU program underscores the importance of academic performance in a “holistic” review of a candidate that emphasizes qualitative factors such as essay, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular involvement. Students should be aware that under the terms of Early Decision (ED), they agree to attend if accepted. It’s a weighty decision to have to make so early in the senior year (applications are due by November 15th), and not advisable if there is even the smallest hesitation. But, if you are absolutely certain that AU is where you want to spend the next four years, then the “test optional” plan is available along with a few extra perks involving housing and registration.

While the AU policy does not extend to regular admission candidates (except for those ED candidates deferred and moved into the regular decision pool), it does represent a solid nod toward the 836 other colleges and universities across the US currently admitting a substantial number of students without regard to SAT’s or ACT’s. Short of completely dropping standardized tests, schools like NYU, Hamilton, Bryn Mawr, and Furman devised “test flexible” programs allowing students to substitute AP (and other) scores for specific admissions tests. Although well meaning, the choices are beginning to get a little confusing and can add to the general chaos surrounding college admissions. Students are advised to tread carefully and read the fine print. Test optional often comes with a few strings attached.

Some area schools with test optional or test flexible policies include:

  • Christopher Newport University*
  • George Mason University*
  • Goucher College
  • Loyola University of Maryland
  • Roanoke College*
  • St. Johns of Annapolis

* SAT/ACT considered only when minimum GPA or class rank is not met

A complete list of all colleges and universities with these programs is contained on the FairTest website.

1 comment:

  1. In the graduate school world, it seems something similar is happening. MIT no longer requires the GRE for many of its graduate school admissions processes -- it's rumored that they found a slight negative correlation between GRE score and performance in PhD programs.