George Washington University is the most recent school to drop admissions test requirements for prospective students.
“SAT/ACT scores will be considered an ‘optional’ credential, and students may decide whether they will submit their scores to GW to be included in their application,” the university’s new policy reads.
The policy assures students that they will not be viewed negatively by the admissions committee if they choose not to submit their test scores.
The change in policy was recommended by a task force on access and success that university President Steven Knapp formed in early 2014 in response to President Obama's call to expand higher education opportunities for low-income students. The task force determined that the best indicator of academic success in college is a student’s high school grade point average.
GWU officials said they are making an effort to diversify their student body, and fear that they may be missing out on students with strong high school records who choose not to apply because they believe that their test scores aren’t high enough.
“Although we have long employed a holistic application review process, we had concerns that students who could be successful at GW felt discouraged from applying if their scores were not as strong as their high school performance,” Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton told the Washington Post. “We want outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds – regardless of their standardized scores – to recognize GW as a place where they can thrive.”
There are now more than 850 schools in the U.S. that do not require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest).
This figure includes "test-flexible" schools that require test scores, but accept results from Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams instead of the SAT or ACT.
FairTest reports that two dozen schools adopted test-optional policies between the spring of 2014 and the spring of 2015, more than any previous year.
GWU is one of the largest and most selective schools to join the test-optional movement.
Testing will still be required for students applying to GWU who are homeschooled, NCAA Division I athletes, from schools that provide only narrative evaluations, and applicants to the accelerated seven-year program that awards a combined bachelor’s and medical degree.