University waves ACT/SAT requirement for Class of 2025 applicants

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Photo Courtesy of TNS

A student bubbles in answers on a standardized test.

By Grace Maloney, Staff Writer

As universities around the country continue to react and respond to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the University has made a decision that it never has before: to waive the SAT/ACT test requirement for applicants.

The decision was released by the Board of Trustees Executive Committee in an approved action statement. 

Andrew Borst, director of undergraduate admissions, said that students, this admissions cycle, do not have to submit test scores for either standardized test. 

“What we’re saying to kids is if they have a test score and they feel that it accurately represents their potential to succeed on this campus, then we encourage them to submit it,” Borst said. “If they have a test score but they don’t feel it reflects how they will do, it is their choice to not submit it to us.”

Borst said that there will be no advantage or disadvantage if a student elects to submit test scores or if they choose to be reviewed without test scores. 

“I do think the application review will take us more time, but not necessarily because of reviewing without test scores. Schools who have gone test-optional have reported application increases of approximately 10%, so if that happens at Illinois, it will take us more time to review the total application volume,” he explained. 

Borst said that the bigger challenge may be the fact that many schools changed to a Pass/Fail grading system during this past semester. 

“Academic performance during the junior year of high school tends to be a major factor in our review, so we will have to work with what information students submit,” Borst said. 

Borst said that there will be an early action deadline in November and a regular decision deadline in January. However, there will only be one day for decision notifications. 

“That should give us the chance to look at our entire applicant pool at one time,” Borst said. “We’ll be reviewing throughout but that will give us time to look back and see, ‘Were there differences in who submitted test scores and who didn’t? Why was that?’”

Though this is how the new admissions process will look at the moment, there may be more changes to come depending on the progression of the pandemic. 

“(COVID-19) throws everything into a more unknown situation cause we can’t accurately predict or even have an educated guess about how many students are going to submit test scores. And we don’t know what the impact is of more schools or just how many schools went entirely Pass/Fail, or the differences in how many students aren’t able to participate in activities in their junior year or potentially what their senior year education is going to look like,” Borst said. 

Borst hopes that this decision to waive the SAT and ACT test scores will release the anxiety of the incoming high school seniors as they begin applying for college, especially those who are simply physically unable to take these tests. 

“We get it,” Borst empathized. “We understand what’s going on. We’re seeing this play out on our own campus. We’re seeing this effect in all sorts of different schools, and we see the varied ways in which schools and students are responding to this crisis. We know we can’t just apply what we typically do to applicants who are coming in.”

Nimisha Goenka, junior in LAS, agreed that this decision will help to ease anxiety. 

“People who are nervous to take exams or due to (COVID-19) were unable to, will really benefit from this. Submitting their application for Illinois will not be as daunting of an experience as it would have been.” Gennka said in an email. 

However, Goenka believes that this decision may impact the applicant pool. 

“Having the option for submitting their test score will definitely, in my opinion, make the application pool more competitive,” she said.

Borst said he was unsure if this decision will make the applicant pool more competitive. During a chaotic and stressful year, only time may tell. 

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