admissions tests
Bid adieu your college prep books. Source: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP

A growing number of US universities are waiving standardised testing requirements – ACT and SAT – for its 2021 applicants.

Both are common entrance exams used by most US colleges and universities to help make admissions decisions. It measures how ready a student is to attend college or university in the country.

With COVID-19 upending life as we know it, however, many universities are waving these admissions tests.

Does this affect you as an international student? Here’s what you need to know:

Have all US universities waived the SAT/ACT?

admissions tests

Many US colleges and universities are dropping the admissions tests due to COVID-19. Source: Robyn Beck/AFP

At the time of writing, not all US universities have waived these admissions tests.

Many including the University of California system (UC) and Cornell University, have announced that they have dropped the requirement of both the SAT and ACT for its 2021 applicants. 

An exception is UC, which has suspended testing requirements for the next two years, and is omitting test scores from the review of in-state applications for 2023 and 2024.

Harvard College said: “We know that there are fewer opportunities to take the SAT or ACT given the cancellations to date,” adding that applicants without SAT or ACT results will not be “disadvantaged in any way”.

The same applies at Dartmouth College. A statement by Dartmouth Dean of Admission Karen Richardson said: “While our policy has long been that SAT subject tests are recommended but not required, now seems the appropriate time to reiterate that applicants who do not submit subject tests will not be disadvantaged in our process.”

Richardson added that “we do not expect applicants to take these exams more than once” and that the SAT or ACT test scores “are only one part of our holistic review”. 

How will it affect your college application?

The lack of an SAT or ACT test score will not affect your application if your university has waived the requirement for them. Many universities note that standardised testing is one of the many factors considered in their admissions process. 

This, however, brings us to the next point…

Increased scrutiny on other application documents 

As the SAT and ACT assess your readiness to enrol in an undergraduate programme at an American college or university. Without them, students can expect increased scrutiny on other aspects of their application documents.

For instance, Cornell University said it will “consider with increased scrutiny their other application documents, looking for different evidence of excellent academic preparation”. 

This includes proof such as excellent grades in challenging courses; commitment and effort in pursuing other learning experiences; results from other secondary, college-preparatory, and university-qualifying testing where available and verifiable, to name a few.

International students should regularly check with universities if they are waiving the admissions tests. This will save you both time and money on fees for application, in addition to test prep courses.

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More US universities are waiving SAT and ACT requirements for 2021 applicants