Should State Universities Downplay the SAT?

The merits and drawbacks of “test-optional” admissions

Several SAT preparation books on a bookshelf.

Many private colleges and some public institutions no longer require prospective students to submit their scores on standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT. Now the coronavirus pandemic is hastening that trend, as additional institutions announced this spring that they would waive the testing requirement for students applying for fall 2021 admission. With testing dates canceled at least until June 2020, more colleges may consider going “test optional.” Downplaying standardized tests, some education leaders say, can help increase the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of a campus population. Is that claim true? And might this policy have any negative consequences? Increasingly, state university systems are facing these questions as they consider the use of standardized testing in the admissions process. Should these public institutions, which often serve thousands of students, go test optional? Jack Buckley, president of the testing company Imbellus, Inc., says no, that test scores have a legitimate place in a holistic admissions approach. Dominique Baker of Southern Methodist University and Kelly Rosinger of Penn State College of Education argue that test-optional policies can enhance equity in college admissions.


Head shot of Jack BuckleyStandardized Tests Can Serve as a Neutral Yardstick

By Jack Buckley




Head shots of Dominique Baker and Kelly RosingerTest Optional Offers Benefits but It’s Not Enough

By Dominique Baker and Kelly Rosinger




This article appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Education Next. Suggested citation format:

Buckley, J., Baker, D., and Rosinger, K. (2020). Should State Universities Downplay the SAT? The merits and drawbacks of “test-optional” admissions. Education Next, 20(3), 66-72.

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