LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The coronavirus is pushing more colleges and universities to become test-optional, meaning interested students would not have to submit ACT and SAT scores when applying.

What You Need To Know

  • More colleges and universities are not making SAT and ACT manadatory

  • Several Kentucky schools are test-optional because of COVID-19

  • Test scores required for entry into specific schools and scholarships

  • Some schools will re-evaluate test-optional enrollment at end of the year

Standardized test scores had long been an admissions requirement at four-year colleges and universities. That admissions standard, set by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, changed a few years ago. That meant colleges did not have to require ACT and SAT scores to apply. Instead, each institution could choose whether it wanted to make that an admissions requirement there or not.

In recent years, we started to see that shift when TransylvaniaSpalding, and Bellarmine all announced moves to test-optional admissions.

"Both nationally and at Bellarmine, we've learned that standardized tests are not the full measure of talent and potential of every student," Bellarmine VP of Enrollment Michael Marshal said earlier this year.

Shortly after Bellarmine's announcement, Spectrum News 1 caught up with DuPont Manual High School guidance counselor Amy Medley. She said more colleges and universities across the country have been making that move. From what she has seen, some students who get good grades don't necessarily test well.

“Well, research tells us that the best predictor of a student success in the college level is going to be the grades in courses they took in high school that are either college prep work or college-level work that they did in high school,” Medley said.

When the pandemic hit in March, it had a major impact on high school students who were planning to take the ACT or SAT in the spring. Knowing that there was a wave of test-optional announcements from colleges and universities across the country. 

The University of Louisville joined that list when it announced freshmen applicants for Fall 2021 would not have to submit standardized test scores except for admittance into a few specific programs.

“That is our biggest difference with the fall 2021 class in terms of what we are thinking and really trying to be understanding of what the rising seniors are going through,” UofL Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Jim Begany said.

Tests will still be required for certain programs including those in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, School of Nursing, and College of Business. If your student is applying for scholarships, most of those require test scores. UofL has some merit-based aid available for students without test scores.

“We have always attempted to look at students holistically,” said Jenny Sawyer, UofL’s executive director of admissions, “especially students with excellent grades, a strong desire to learn and be a college graduate, and those without the resources of others. This gives us the opportunity to provide access to UofL in new ways and reduce the stress of standardized tests to our prospective students, especially during these difficult times.”

First-time freshmen who do not submit ACT or SAT results will be required to take exams in math or reading to determine their placement in first-year courses after they are accepted at UofL.

The school plans to review the test-optional policy to see if it will continue beyond the fall of 2021.