UO adopts SAT and ACT test-optional admissions policy

Empty desks

The University of Oregon is introducing a new admissions policy that will make standardized tests optional for undergraduate applicants.

Starting with the university’s next admissions cycle, the 2021 freshman class, students will have a choice about whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores.

The new test-optional policy follows the natural evolution of the UO’s admissions approach. In recent years, the university has placed less and less emphasis on SAT and ACT scores because, for some students, it can be an inadequate indicator of future success, according to the UO Office of Admissions.

The change will benefit current high school juniors and sophomores across the country who have faced anxiety due the broad cancellations of SAT and ACT dates this spring in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

In February, the university launched a joint task force of the University Senate and administration to consider whether the SAT or ACT should continue to be a requirement for admissions. The task force examined the issue and made a recommendation to President Michael H. Schill and Provost Patrick Phillips calling for elimination of the tests as an admissions requirement for most students.

After collaboration with the University Senate and a report of its findings to the UO Board of Trustees, the president and provost accepted the task force’s recommendations. The UO is  part of an announcement by all public universities within Oregon to move to test-optional for undergraduate admissions. 

 “We already use a holistic approach in our admissions process that takes many factors into account: the student’s local context of school and surroundings, the choices they make within their curriculum, and the diverse and varied perspectives they bring to our campus community,” said Jim Rawlins, director of admissions and assistant vice president for student services and enrollment management.

The university will continue to allow test scores to be part of the picture in the applications from students who choose to provide them. Applicants without scores will not receive different treatment than those who do provide them. 

“Just as scores have not always been a part of our decision even when they were present, we know scores will continue to be one helpful piece among many for students who still choose to provide them,” Rawlins said.

The change will only affect domestic freshmen students; international freshman applicants already are not required to submit standardized test scores when they apply to the UO. Find out more about the details of the UO’s test-optional policy on a new frequently-asked-questions webpage.

Applicants should be aware that standardized test scores will still be needed to be automatically eligible for certain scholarships at the UO.

However, students can still be considered for other awards without submitting scores, such as the UO’s PathwayOregon program, which has served Pell Grant-eligible Oregon residents for more than a decade. Freshman applicants can visit the UO’s scholarship pages for the latest information on an array of options.

“This is a really exciting time for high school students looking to come to the University of Oregon,” said Roger Thompson, vice president for student services and enrollment management. “Along with our new Oregon Guarantee program, which gives families more financial certainty, our test-optional policy will now give students more flexibility in choosing what information we consider in learning about their academic promise.”

By Saul Hubbard, University Communications