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University drops first-year admission standardized test requirement

As part of the new test-optional policy, applicants for first-year admission to the College at the University are no longer required to submit any standardized test results. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Applicants for first-year admission to the University are no longer required to submit any standardized test results to the Office of Admissions. With this move to test-optional admissions, the University will continue to review and consider test scores for those applicants who want to submit them, but any applicant can also choose to be evaluated only on high school grades, coursework rigor, essays, achievements, community contributions, recommendations, and interviews.

Since 2011, the admissions policy has been test-flexible, where applicants didn’t need to take the SAT or ACT, but needed to submit at least one form of a standardized test score—most often Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and national or international exams—to be considered for admission. Vice Provost for Enrollment Initiatives and Dean of Admissions Jonathan Burdick says that under this test-flexible policy, hundreds of well-qualified students who never took the SAT or ACT enrolled, and the high selectivity, retention, and graduation rates over the past decade indicate that this approach is well-founded.

“During our test-flexible years, we also discovered that optional standardized tests added little extra value to our review process,” says Burdick. “Even well-constructed tests don’t lead to better decisions, and the cost to students having to take and submit those extra exams outweighs any benefit to us. The burden has been greatest on our first-generation and low-income applicants with excellent high school grades and lower scores. As they have been enrolling and succeeding here, we know that other applicants denied based in part on lower test scores might have thrived here, too. We want all high-achieving students to have equivalent opportunity at Rochester.”

The new test-optional policy will be reflected in the application materials for the fall 2020 first-year class, and Rochester admissions counselors will provide more information to high school counselors and potential applicants.

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