January 27, 2021
When Worcester Polytechnic Institute wanted to attract more Black, Hispanic and female students, it became the first nationally ranked science university to make the ACT and SAT standardized tests optional for admission.
Eliminating the test requirement can raise the numbers of low-income and first-generation students and those from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups without affecting graduation rates, according to research conducted in collaboration with the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC.
And white and well-off students from better-resourced high schools and with greater access to private tutoring score better on these tests, according to ACT and the College Board — which administers the SAT — themselves.
That’s why the rush by universities and colleges to make the SAT and ACT optional during the pandemic has given hope to advocates for more diversity on campus.
“Institutions are kidding themselves if they believe going test-optional equals diversifying a student body a lot more,” said Angel Pérez, NACAC’s chief executive officer and former vice president for enrollment and student success at Trinity College. “You have to put many more strategies in place.”