University of Denver Will Stop Requiring Prospective Students to Submit SAT or ACT Scores

Private college will instead look to grades, essays, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities

The Denver Post
March 19, 2019

By Elizabeth Hernandez

Students hoping to attend the University of Denver no longer will be required to submit SAT or ACT scores with their applications beginning next year, the institution announced Tuesday.

Officials at the private university said they’ve been toying with the idea of ditching the test scores for two years in an effort to make their admissions process more accessible and attract diverse undergraduates.

According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the only other other institution in Colorado to abandon the traditional standardized tests for admission is Colorado College. The Colorado Springs-based private college has a “flexible testing” policy that takes into account other test options that might be more advantageous for a prospective student.

Data confirms that high school students’ grades are better predictors of first-year college performance, with standardized test scores proving to have a low correlation to how long students stick with college, said Todd Rhinehart, DU’s vice chancellor for enrollment.

“When you look at data, oftentimes what test scores correlate more is the degree attainment of an applicant’s parents and their family income,” Rhinehart said.

From students without resources to prepare for the test to those who take it multiple times and those who simply don’t test well but get good grades, Rhinehart said this step is the elimination of a barrier that he hopes will make the fall 2020 class and all classes after that more equitable and diverse.

DU students will be accepted based on their high school transcripts, admissions essays, letters of recommendation and their activities outside of high school, Rhinehart said.

Students who feel that their test scores accurately reflect their academic abilities are still encouraged to submit them, the university said.

Leslie Taylor, Colorado State University’s vice president for enrollment and access, said SAT and ACT scores are among several criteria the school’s admissions officers use in selecting students.

“In terms of making these test scores optional, we’ve been keeping an eye on this emerging national trend,” Taylor said. “We’re always considering our admissions requirements in the direction of increasing fairness to student applicants and ensuring that we are admitting students with the best chance of success.”

The movement to become a “test-optional” school — more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. have some form of “flexible testing options” — is a “slow-growth trend,” said Steven Roy Goodman, a Washington, D.C.-based educational consultant and admissions strategist.

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