Test-optional policies are sticking around for 5C admissions

A hand completing a multiple choice exam.
The 5Cs are taking a second look at their traditional testing requirements after COVID-19 necessitated test-optional admissions policies. (Courtesy: Alberto G./Flickr)

Although originally just a COVID-19-era necessity, test-optional admissions policies at the 5Cs may be sticking around. 

During the 2021-22 admissions cycle, each of the 5Cs were test-optional, a pattern they shared with two-thirds of colleges and universities across the country. But even as classes resume in person, the 5Cs are taking a second look at their traditional testing requirements. 

Last month, Harvey Mudd College said in a statement that all first-year and transfer applications through fall 2023 will be test-optional. 

HMC’s Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid Thyra Briggs told TSL via email that the school wants to ensure they have enough data around testing before making a permanent decision.

“Since Harvey Mudd is Pass/Fail for [first-years’] first semester, it is unlikely that we would have enough information to make an informed decision about our future testing policy by the time students applying for 2023 would need to plan their testing,” Briggs said to TSL.

Despite common misunderstandings about test-optional applications, Briggs said students who do not submit scores face no disadvantage.

“38 percent percent of our applicants, 39 percent of our admitted students, and 39 percent of students who enrolled did not have scores,” she said. 

Pomona College announced earlier this year that it will also maintain its test-optional policy for four additional years, continuing for the classes of 2026 through 2028. This decision came in tandem with a faculty vote supporting the change. 

Pomona Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Seth Allen said the faculty-student committee on admissions will continue to review peer experiences and new research to test the efficacy of testing. Another faculty vote will take place in 2023. 

Pomona Director of Admissions Adam Sapp told TSL that the school is already receiving positive responses to their test-optional policy.

“We heard frequently from both high school college counselors and prospective students that the timing of this announcement was greatly appreciated,” Sapp said in an email.

When the Scripps College Board of Trustees voted in early 2020 to maintain their test-optional policy for the foreseeable future, the school viewed the decision as one based on equitable access.

“This decision supports the College’s mission to provide access to a distinctive education for students who will thrive at Scripps,” the Scripps website says. “The policy to remove the requirement of submitting SAT or ACT scores will allow admission officers to identify and advocate for students with a strong academic profile who may have previously been viewed as less competitive, based on their performance on a single exam.”

Claremont McKenna College will also keep its test-optional policy for the 2022 application cycle due to the pandemic’s impact on testing availability, spokesperson Gilien Silsby told TSL.

Pitzer College is taking the initiative further. The school became the first West Coast college to go test-optional in 2003. Over the summer, the school announced a new three-year pilot initiative to go completely test-blind, meaning students’ test scores will not be considered at all. The school said this policy will allow students to showcase their potential and talents more holistically.

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