Test-Optional Admissions Policies: Evidence from Implementations Pre- and Post-COVID-19

Download Report

June 24, 2021

Laura Schultz
Brian Backstrom

Executive Summary

As did the vast majority of higher education institutions, SUNY implemented test-optional admissions policies across all campuses for students applying to enroll in Fall 2021. SUNY and its peers made this decision in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced applicants’ access to SAT/ACT testing. A majority of these schools have extended their test-optional application policies through the Fall 2022 admissions cycle and many have committed to remain test-optional for 2023. The number of schools that are committing to permanently implementing test-optional admissions is growing, too.

Test-optional policies are not new and notable state systems such as University of California’s began their move to drop consideration of SAT/ACT scores in admission decisions well before the COVID-19 crisis. Still, the pandemic resulted in a surge of public and private colleges, universities, and systems not only enacting temporary test-optional admission practices but also considering longer-term and permanent establishment of such policies.

In this policy brief we address the following questions:

  • What evidence exists on the effectiveness of test-optional admissions policies to increase applications, stimulate more diverse enrollment, and enhance student success?
  • What is the evidence from SUNY’s test-optional pilot program?
  • What decisions have SUNY’s peer institutions announced?
  • What additional questions and data could SUNY consider before making a permanent decision?

Read the full policy brief.