GW is the latest to make standardized test results optional for many applicants.

SAT-ACTThe George Washington University (GW) announced that most undergraduate applicants will no longer be required to submit SAT or ACT scores as of August 1.

High school coursework and grades will remain the most important criteria, GW officials said, along with writing skills, recommendations, and involvement in school and community. Students applying to GW for the 2016-2017 school year will be able to choose whether or not they submit their standardized test scores along with their application.

GW’s Task Force on Access and Success reviewed the role that test scores play in predicting how students will perform at the university, and their findings revealed that a student’s high school record, in particular his or her GAP, can be an accurate predictor. Those findings led to the “test-optional” policy recommendation.

(Next page: University officials comment on the new policy)

“The test-optional policy should strengthen and diversify an already outstanding applicant pool and will broaden access for those high-achieving students who have historically been underrepresented at selective colleges and universities, including students of color, first-generation students and students from low-income households,” said Laurie Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management and co-chair of the access committee. “We hope the test-optional policy sends a message to prospective students that if you are smart, hard-working and have challenged yourself in a demanding high school curriculum, there could be a place for you here.”

Graduate School of Education and Human Development Dean Michael Feuer said, “With the change, GW continues to strive for the twin goals of high academic standards and improved access, so central to the history of American education and especially important now in an era of demographic, economic and educational change.

“I look forward to monitoring this innovation in admissions policy and learning how this will widen the field of qualified applicants and continue to move our university to even higher levels of academic excellence,” said Dr. Feuer, who co-chairs the access committee.

The change in GW’s admissions process also aligns with a growing national trend. Hundreds of colleges throughout the country have opted to become test optional in recent years.

“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,” said Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton. “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.”

The university’s new admissions policy will include exceptions for homeschooled applicants, students from high schools that only provide narrative evaluation of students, college athletes and students applying for the seven-year B.A./M.D. program. Prospective students with questions are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions.

Today’s announcement by George Washington University that it will no longer require most applicants to submit ACT or SAT test scores is the latest example of a surge of schools dropping admissions testing requirements for all or many applicants.

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) said 40 colleges and universities have adopted test-optional policies since the spring 2013.

The list includes Brandeis, Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan, Temple, and Virginia Commonwealth, have also eliminated ACT or SAT score requirements for all or many applicants

FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer said in a statement, “The test-optional surge recognizes that no test—not the SAT, old or new, nor the ACT – is needed for high-quality admissions. Many independent studies and practical experiences have shown that test-optional admission enhances both academic excellence and diversity.”

FairTest’s list of ACT/SAT-optional schools now includes more than 180 schools ranked in the top tiers of their respective categories. More than one-third of top-ranked national liberal arts colleges have test-optional policies.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


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