Test-Score Optional List Continues to Grow

University Testing

Two selective, independent colleges with similar names but different geographic locations now share another common bond. Both Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, reacted to the introduction of the “new” SAT and ACT by dropping their testing requirements for undergraduate admissions applicants. The schools join Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and more than 700 other accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions in posting “test-optional” admissions policies.

Dean of Admissions Steve Syverson explained Lawrence University’s decision, “We’ve basically decided to say ‘enough already.’ The recent introduction of the additional writing segments for both the SAT and ACT has further raised the level of confusion, angst and expense already associated with the admissions process.” He also pointed to the explosion of test coaching, noting, “The increased emphasis on the tests further disenfranchises students from less-privileged backgrounds, which then interferes with higher education’s traditional mission to enhance socioeconomic mobility in America.”

Dean Syverson expressed confidence that the test-optional policy would enable Lawrence to promote equity and excellence stating, “We believe that our comprehensive review process allows us to identify the kind of great kids we want at Lawrence, regardless whether or not they submit standardized test scores.”

St. Lawrence University Vice President Terry Cowdrey offered a parallel rationale: “We are confident that our holistic review process will continue to allow us to assess each student’s academic ability and potential for success at St. Lawrence, regardless of whether scores from the ACT or SAT are part of the academic record.” College President Daniel Sullivan agreed, “[W]e have recently completed research that shows high school grade point average is twice as powerful as SAT or ACT scores in predicting academic success at St. Lawrence.”

Several other selective colleges are reviewing their admissions policies, often using FairTest’s report Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit as a resource. The list of test-score optional schools is on-line here.