The University of Virginia announced Thursday that they will not require standardized testing scores for undergraduate applications in the 2021-22 admissions cycle.
The announcement comes as the Coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted high school students’ ability to take standardized tests.
So far, more than a million students have had their test dates cancelled, and both the SAT and ACT have announced plans to move the test online if the pandemic continues into the fall.
Dean of Admissions Greg Roberts told WUVA last month that he took issue with online standardized tests.
“What if a student has unreliable internet access or a disruptive home environment? It makes it difficult to offer a fair and equitable test,” he said.
Roberts clarified in the announcement that students will still be able to submit test scores as part of their application but will not be at a disadvantage for not doing so.
He said his office will continue to read applications holistically.
While UVA’s decision only affects the upcoming application cycle, President Jim Ryan said the policy will allow the school “to explore the utility of tests in our overall admissions process going forward.”
The Office of Admissions plans to review the policy next spring and decide then whether or not to extend the pilot.
For the past decade, there has been a growing movement against standardized testing, as critics of the test have argued the tests disadvantage minority and low-income students, citing lower average scores in those demographics.
“[Tests] are flawed, no doubt, since there is a correlation between test scores and family income,” Roberts said last month. “We find testing to be a useful tool, but it is a blunt instrument. It’s not perfect.”
The University’s decision also comes as a wave of schools across the country have implemented policies that move away from testing requirements.
The University of California announced last month a plan to phase out testing entirely by 2024, and the College of William and Mary will begin a three-year test-optional pilot-program this fall.
Roberts said that both decisions were influential as UVA considered its own policy moving forward.
The University has also extended the deadline for Early Decision applications to November 1, giving students more time to decide if UVA is their first choice for admission.