The Coronavirus:
Creates College Admissions Vertigo

By: Joseph Corace | Last Updated: April 14, 2020

abstractThe Coronavirus has affected almost everything – including college admissions (see here for an expansive view). The recent changes have been dizzying.

ready for changeIn the last two weeks, many colleges, some of them highly selective, have made the SAT/ACT test-optional for applicants – typically as a short-term trial (see below) – with Covid-19 being the proximate cause. For those colleges, waiving their test score requirement will go into effect for the 2020–21 admission cycle and will be evaluated in 2021 (or 2023 for a few) after the close of that cycle in order to determine whether to make the policy ongoing. Here’s our most recent listing of those schools and what they’ve reported about the duration of the change (in years):

  • Amherst (1)
  • Babson (1)
  • BU (1)
  • Case Western (1)
  • Colgate (1)
  • College of Wooster
  • Davidson (3-year pilot)
  • Hamilton* (1)
  • Haverford (3-year pilot)
  • Middlebury* (3)
  • Northeastern (1)
  • Pomona College (1)
  • Rhodes (3)
  • Santa Clara (1)
  • Scripps
  • Swarthmore
  • Trinity University (3)
  • Tufts (3)
  • Tulane (1)
  • UNLV (1)
  • U Oregon
  • U California system (1)
  • U Washington
  • Vassar (1)
  • Williams (1)

* Previously test-flexible1

In taking this action, those colleges have joined the 1,000+ others that were already test-optional or test-flexible. See here for a listing of those schools. At this point, none of the Florida State University System schools are considering going test-optional.

Understanding what “test-optional” means is very important: For the most part, it means that students aren’t required to submit test scores – but that test scores, if submitted, WILL be considered as part of the admission process. And that means that – all other considerations being equal – students who submit good SAT/ACT test scores are likely to have an advantage over students who don’t submit scores.

inside higher edThat’s borne out by the results of a study reported in a post on The study was based on “data from 28 colleges and universities and 955,774 applicants over multi-year periods for each of those institutions. The institutions studied were all four-year institutions with test-optional policies, and they were compared to peer institutions that require testing.” Among its conclusions was that students “who didn't submit scores were slightly less likely to be admitted to the colleges to which they applied…”

importantIt also seems to be a no-brainer that students who submit good SAT/ACT test scores will be similarly advantaged when scholarships are being considered. To underscore that point, neither Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships nor most college-based merit scholarships have become test-optional.

We want to be absolutely clear: We strongly advise students to take SAT/ACT tests to enhance their chances of admission and for scholarships.

And we stand ready to help you prepare.


1 A test-flexible admissions policy allows applicants to submit various standardized test scores, not limited to SAT and ACT, to support their application. Each such college lists the scores that they’ll accept – including IB, AP, and SAT Subject Test Scores, among others – on their website. One example is NYU: Standardized Test Policy

Topics: College Admission ACT/SAT Educational Consulting Test Optional


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