As of August 1st, 2015, George Washington University will no longer require incoming students to submit their SAT or ACT test scores. GW is the largest university to drop the requirement, with 25,000 total students in attendance. The decision comes as a bid to promote access to higher education for low-income students and to encourage universities to take a more holistic approach to their admission selection. Students can still send in their test scores with their enrollment applications, but those who do not will not be penalized for the omission.
According to their recent news release, “high school coursework and grades will continue to be the most important factors in GW’s holistic review process, along with a student’s writing skills, recommendations, involvement in school and community, and personal qualities and character.”
George Washington University is not the first college to drop the SAT/ACT requirement, but it is the largest university thus far to have done so. While GW will still require the test scores for a handful of students including those who have been homeschooled, student athletes, or students applying for some specific programs, the university hopes as a whole that students will be accepted for their merit rather than simply for their test scores. Says Karen Stroud Felton, Dean of Admissions at George Washington, “We want outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds—regardless of their standardized scores—to recognize GW as a place where they can thrive.”
FairTest.org provides a list of all the American universities that either do not require SAT/ACT scores or are flexible about them, and the list is long, providing many options for students who are unable to take the tests. The revision to George Washington’s application requirements is a positive turn in evaluating student population, favoring the potential of a student based on their character rather than a set of numbers. More colleges are sure to follow suit and drop the test requirements, paving the way for a system of higher education that is more accessible to everyone.