For More Equitable Access, Test-Optional Approaches are Needed Statewide in Wake of Covid-19

Every student who aspires to college should have equitable access to the career pathway of their choice. But the reality is this: Students with more time, money, and technology to prepare for the SAT and ACT will always have an advantage over their peers. That is more true now than ever, in a context in which schools are closed and students do not have the same ability to prep for or take the test due to the Covid-19 public health crisis. As recently as this spring, the National Association for College Admission Counseling rightfully raised its own concerns over inequities that will inevitably arise from the College Board and ACT's proposal for home administration of SAT and ACT tests this fall. In such settings, low-income students, less likely to have access to the devices and internet connection necessary to take such tests, would further be put at a disadvantage. In the wake of the pandemic and its still-evolving fallout, colleges and universities should ensure prospective students have equitable access to their institution, by eliminating the requirement to submit ACT or SAT scores in their application packages.

Beginning with Knox College in 2005, over two dozen Illinois institutions have recognized that requiring SAT/ACT scores contribute to inequality by barring qualified students from admission and have moved to test-optional admission practices. But until all institutions adopt more equitable approaches, not all students – particularly those who are Black, Latinx, or low-income – will have access to the many higher education options Illinois has to offer. Without statewide action, the students most negatively impacted by COVID-19 - many of whom are low-income and students of color - will be blocked from admission to Illinois' more selective institutions.

In the wake of COVID-19, Illinois can ensure equitable access to public universities across the state by implementing a uniform, test-optional admissions policy for the next three years.

​IL Colleges and Universities That Have Adopted Test Optional Practices (as of Aug 9, 2020)

American Academy of the Art -- No test required (just application, interview, HS degree with transcript)
Augustana College -- Test-optional for applicants with 3.0+ GPA; must complete admissions interview; not for international students
​​Columbia College -- Test-optional (though uses test for merit-based scholarships), students take on-campus placement tests once admitted
​​DePaul University -- Test-optional
Illinois College -- Test-optional
Knox College -- Test-optional, still required for home-schooled students
​​Lake Forest College -- Test-optional and required to conduct an interview; still required for home-schooled and international
McKendree University -- Test-optional; still required for international, homeschooled, if have lower than 3.0, wish to receive some merit-based scholarships or be considered for Honors program
Monmouth College -- Test-optional
National Louis University -- No test required (need 2.0 GPA to qualify for admission)​
Northeastern University -- No standardized test score required for Fall 2020 enrollment application. → Details: "Effective immediately, Northeastern's Fall 2020 admissions decisions will be made strictly using grade-point average and curriculum."
Northern Illinois University -- "Test-blind" starting Fall 2021 freshman class
Quincy University -- Test-optional → Details: "For admission to the university in fall 2020, the new QU test-optional admissions policy only affects students who cannot take a standardized test. Beginning with admissions for fall 2021, students will not be required to submit test scores, though they will have the option to do so"
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale -- Test-optional (must have over 2.75 GPA)
Tribeca Flashpoint College -- Test optional
University of Chicago -- Test-optional
Western Illinois University -- Test-optional
Chicago State University
University of St. Francis -– Test-optional → Details: "New in 2020 & 21. With several dates for the SAT and ACT canceled in the face of COVID-19, USF has waived the requirement for those test scores for incoming freshmen."
Bradley University -- Test-optional → Details: Beginning with students applying for fall 2021 enrollment at Bradley University, undergraduate applicants will no longer be required to submit standardized test scores, ACT or SAT, for admission.
Dominican University -- Test-optional → Details: Will not require ACT and/or SAT scores for Fall 2020 and 2021 admissions
Governors State University -- Test-optional → Details: For the semesters Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, Governors State University has elected to move to a "test optional" admission process for incoming freshman applicants.
Northwestern University -- Test-optional → Details: SAT or ACT scores (OPTIONAL for 2020-21 cycle).
Illinois State University -- Test-optional → Details: No SAT or ACT score required for summer or fall 2021.
University of Illinois Chicago -- Test-optional Details: Optional for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.
University of Illinois Springfield -- Test-optional → "The University of Illinois Springfield will not require college bound high school seniors to submit standardized test scores as part of the application process for fall 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- Test-optional for Fall 2021 freshman applicants.
Elmhurst University -- Test-optional pilot for 2020-21 application year.
Greenville University -- Test-optional
Illinois Institute of Technology -- Test-optional for Spring 2021 and Fall 2021. "Students applying for fall 2020 admission are still required to submit their official standardized test scores.
Lewis University -- Test-optional → Details: "Lewis University has adopted a test-optional admission policy for incoming freshmen applying for the Fall 2021 semester"
North Park University -- Test-optional for 2020-2021 admissions → Details: "The application process for 2020-2021 will emphasize the whole student, as it always has, just without an SAT/ACT test score.
Saint Xavier University -- Test-blind for Fall 2021 applicants
Wheaton College -- Test-optional → Details: The submission of standardized test results is optional for all candidates.
Western Illinois University - Test-optional for Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 admissions.
​​​​​Add'l Sources: ​https://www.nprillinois.org/post/put-down-your-pencils-many-il-schools-join-test-optional-trend#stream/0http://fairtest.org/university/optional/statehttps://www.nacacnet.org/college-admission-status-coronavirushttps://www.nacacnet.org/college-admission-status-coronavirusUpdate needed? Email PCC Senior Communications Manager, Bravetta Hassell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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