Ohio University announced last week it will no longer require incoming students to submit standardized test scores when they apply to the Athens campus, marking a significant change to the university’s admissions process in an attempt to even the playing field for prospective students.
The change was originally made temporarily in response to the COVID-19 pandemic impeding students’ ability to take standardized tests, but the option is now permanent, according to a news release from the university.
Students who apply to the university, however, can still choose to submit both ACT and SAT scores for additional consideration, but opting to do so will not negatively impact their chances of admission, according to the release.
Those who do not submit test scores would also still be eligible for university benefits like scholarships, OU Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Sayrs said at a Board of Trustees meeting last week.
The move comes as many other institutions of higher education across the country are rethinking how to assess prospective students absent of their test scores amid the pandemic when The College Board, the company that administers the ACT, cancelled most upcoming testing dates.
Critics of standardized tests argue that they create barriers to higher education for those who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and lack the resources to adequately prepare for the exams.
“Ohio University strives to be a place of access and inclusion, even in our most rigorous and selective admission processes. We know that standardized testing sometimes can present access barriers. By making submission of standardized tests optional, I’m pleased that we can remove one more obstacle for students, especially in this moment,” OU President Duane Nellis said in the release.
Both the ACT and SAT are not necessarily indicators of students’ success at OU, but more accurately reflect their socioeconomic background, Sayrs said at the meeting last week.
Sayrs outlined the university’s findings that a student’s high school GPA, rather than standardized test scores, is a more accurate indicator of their likelihood to graduate.
“We’re really excited to join this national movement to a more equitable way of doing selective college admissions,” she said.
Although OU waived its standardized testing requirements, the university will still consider applicants’ “academic performance, rigor of curriculum, grades and grade trends, class rank, optional essays, letters of recommendation, special talents and achievements, and more,” to determine admission, the release said.