Knox, Drew Go Test Optional

University Testing

Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, are the latest selective undergraduate institutions to drop standardized tests scores from their admissions requirements. Both test-score optional policies go into effect immediately.


President Roger Taylor explained the Knox decision, “We live in a world increasingly obsessed by testing at all levels of education. And, ‘teaching to a test’ has become more important than actually learning something. We decided to take a leadership role in reducing the fixation on college admissions testing.”


Taylor added, “High school students can artificially boost their scores on standardized tests by taking expensive cram courses that can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. . . The current industry of costly test preparation courses is, in effect, a barrier to colleges for the students who cannot afford them.”


Drew University had similar concerns, according to President Robert Weisbuch, who announced the school’s new policy, “We are making SAT scores optional because we believe this action will help Drew increase its selectivity, improve its diversity, and enhance overall student quality. We feel this action will encourage students to focus more on what a liberal arts education has to offer them and less on test scores.”


This year’s revisions to the ACT and SAT did not address either school’s concerns about the tests. According to Knox College Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admission, Paul Steenis, “The recent addition of essay components to the SAT and ACT haven’t made them more useful, just more expensive for students. Knox’s application already included an essay and personal interview for most applicants. Knox admissions counselors personally review each application and are able to make well-informed decisions based on each applicant’s achievements, interests and personal qualities.”


A Drew University news release stated, “Supporting Drew’s decision is a growing sense in the academic community that SAT scores do not help college admissions officers make significantly better admissions decisions.”


“Standardized tests don’t measure the qualities we value most in our applicants – intellectual curiosity, creativity, and an eagerness for learning,” Knox Vice President Steenis concluded. “We want future students who have excelled in a challenging high school curriculum and who show initiative, leadership and personal maturity."


Knox and Drew are the latest nationally ranked colleges to drop admissions tests in 2005 after the College Board and ACT announced changes in their exams. Others making the same decision include Lawrence University, the College of the Holy Cross, and St. Lawrence University. Several more well-known schools are in the process of reviewing their exam requirements, often with the assistance of FairTest. This fall’s National Association for College Admissions Counseling conference, with more than 4,000 attendees, featured a panel of academic leaders from schools that had recently abandoned the SAT and ACT.


FairTest’s optional list now includes 724 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions, more than a quarter of all such schools. Regularly updated alphabetical and state-by-state versions of the list are available online through the FairTest home page at Later this year, live hot links will allow college applicants and other interested web visitors to directly access the admissions offices of schools which sign up for this service.