Test-Optional Admissions Policies Hurt the Populations They Intend to Help

Jillian Ludwig:

In late July, the University of Wisconsin-Madison joined the rest of the UW System in receiving a waiver from the Board of Regents to suspend ACT and SAT score requirements for admissions in response to COVID-19. The original waiver was set to expire on December 31, 2020, but the university has already opted to extend the suspension until the summer of 2023. This raises suspicions that their choice is not solely due to COVID-19 but a trend spreading throughout higher education.

In the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, flexibility is necessary, but as the UW System’s flagship university, UW-Madison must refrain from having fashionable policies and work to maintain its high academic standard. If the university wants to maintain that standard, they will continue to take into account all measures of academic preparedness — both high school performance and standardized test scores, first and foremost.

In recent years, test-optional admissions policies have become increasingly popular in higher education, as standardized tests have been scrutinized for furthering inequity among students. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into many aspects of life, it has also had the unintended effect of spurring on this movement. In fact, the pandemic has resulted in hundreds of universities from California to New York opting to remove their requirements for scores.