More Virginia colleges make SAT, ACT exams optional

Students applying for spring or fall 2023 at Norfolk State University will not have to submit...
Students applying for spring or fall 2023 at Norfolk State University will not have to submit SAT or ACT scores. A growing number of colleges are making the tests optional for admission.(Virginia Mercury)
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 6:08 PM EDT
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The University of VirginiaVirginia Polytechnic Institute and Norfolk State University are among the dozens of schools in the commonwealth that have changed their policies to relax admissions exams requirements.

The test-optional trend is growing as more than 1,800 accredited, four-year colleges and universities nationally have committed to offering ACT/SAT optional or test-free testing policies for fall 2023 applicants, said Harry Feder, executive director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), which promotes the fair and reasonable assessment of educators, students and school systems.

“I think it’s a recognition by four-year institutions that they don’t get that much additional benefit from administering this test,” Feder said.

FairTest has been tracking the trend as the number of test takers declines.

In Virginia, 194,909 test takers completed the SAT or a PSAT‐related assessment in 2022, below the 238,500 test takers recorded in 2019.

ACT test-taking also has declined in Virginia to 9% in 2022 compared to 21% in 2019.

Feder said schools that have instituted test-optional policies are seeing an increase in applications and minority applicants.

According to the American Educational Research Journal, one of the key findings from a study of nearly 100 private institutions is that the policy change was connected to a 10 to 12% increase in enrollment of first-time Black, Latinx and Native students, and a 6 to 8% increase in enrollment of first-time students who were women.

Feder also said taking away the admissions exams remove the need for students to be coached and prepared for a test with “absolutely no educational value.”