From 1 Year to 2

Some highly selective colleges went test optional for a year, citing the pandemic. Now many of them are extending those bans.

February 1, 2021
(Getty Images)

This week Cornell University said it would stay test optional for another year after this one. Columbia and Harvard Universities and the University of Pennsylvania quickly followed.

The University of Virginia on Friday announced it would stay test optional for the next two years. Amherst and Williams Colleges, Boston College, the College of Charleston, and Rice University also extended their policies for one or two years.

Robert Schaeffer, interim executive director of FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, said via email that these moves are "highly significant."

"The recent test-suspension extensions appear to be the vanguard of a national movement to maintain ACT/SAT optional policies at highly selective colleges and universities at least through the fall 2022 admission cycle," he said. "FairTest expects many more such schools to follow suit in the coming weeks joining the more than half of all four-year schools that are already test-optional for fall 2022."

Schaeffer added that "late winter/early spring is typically the season when admissions offices unveil changes in standardized exam requirements. This year, many high school juniors, their parents, and counselors are trying to figure out whether they should try to begin the ACT/SAT process in the midst of a pandemic or whether they can avoid this potential threat to their health and safety. By announcing test-optional extensions, schools both recognize that many admissions testing sites remain closed and lift a burden off potential applicants."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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