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Many Universities are Extending Their Test-Optional Policies for the Upcoming Admissions Cycle, & Some Have Ended the Requirement Altogether

I applied to college pre-pandemic, which, believe it or not, differs a lot from the way students are applying to universities during, and potentially even after, the pandemic. Watching my sister and cousins apply during this application cycle has drawn my attention to the differences that can come with the elimination of certain components, and TBH, I wish some of those changes had happened ages ago. 

At first, many weren’t sure if these updates to the admissions processes were temporary or the new normal. But, as we reach the yearlong mark of the pandemic it’s clear that some of these adjustments are here to stay (keyword: “some”). 

If you’re currently thinking about your upcoming senior year and your impending college apps, then here are a few things to keep in mind. (And yes, it may be early, as the 2020-2021 cycle isn’t quite over yet, but I’ve learned planning ahead can never hurt!) 

woman sitting in front of Macbook
Photo by energepic.com from Pexels
A whopping 72% of colleges waived their SAT/ACT requirements for the last cycle of applicants, and many are extending that policy for the incoming round of applicants. This extension first received a lot of attention after Cornell University and Columbia University announced the continuation of their test-optional policies back in January, accommodating for the lack of seats available to take the SAT/ACT during the pandemic. 

Some schools (the Cal State system, Tufts University, Haverford College and more) have even extended their test-optional policies for the next three application cycles, meaning if you’re graduating high school before 2023, there’s a decent chance you won’t need to sit for the SAT or ACT. 

The most surprising news of all? A good chunk of schools have actually adopted a permanent test-optional policy for undergraduate admissions. Colleges such as the University of Oregon, the University of San Diego and Indiana University have waived standardized testing requirements altogether. This new policy, known as “test-blind admissions,” has been advocated for by many students in the last decade, and is now becoming more widely adopted. While many schools have debated taking on test-blind admissions, the pandemic has given many of these institutions the push needed to finally begin incorporating the policy. 

There are some “new normals” that I hope disappear as quickly as they came about, but I can’t say I’d be upset about the death of standardized testing. 

Merry is a third-year political science & economics double major at Boston University. She is a former fashion merchandising major and hopes to work in editorial fashion, PR, or social media post-graduation while also focusing on the journalistic aspects of both her majors. She currently contributes to a number of publications while simultaneously working as an editor at Her Campus BU. Merry was also previously the managing editor of Her Campus at VCU and worked as an editorial intern for Her Campus Media. Contact her at mariamgnebiyu@gmail.com & @merry.nebiyu on Instagram.