Sept. 21, 2015
Standardized Tests No Longer Required for Undergraduate Admission
The Catholic University of America has announced that, effective immediately, submission of standardized tests will be optional for students applying for undergraduate admission. First-year and transfer applicants will receive full consideration for admission and merit-based scholarships regardless of whether they submit the results from the SAT or the ACT.
Catholic University President John Garvey announced the new policy, noting, “This policy implements the findings of our research: that a student’s academic program in high school and his or her classroom performance are the best predictors of academic success. We recognize that standardized tests can sometimes present an impediment to students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. We want to assure all potential applicants to the University that their record of achievement in high school is the foundation of our review for admission.”
Garvey added, “We have a deep-rooted mission to serve students from diverse backgrounds, and this policy encourages students who have achieved success in high school to confidently consider Catholic University.”
Despite efforts to communicate the importance of high school performance over standardized test scores to prospective applicants, many students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, often believe their test scores rule out their chances for admission, says Christopher P. Lydon, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at Catholic University.
Lydon says, “Our review of the predictors of success mirror studies that have taken place at a variety of institutions in recent years. Our study looked at student performance from the classes of 2009 through 2013; academic rigor and classroom performance were by far the most predictive measures.” He continues, “Our evaluation also considers each candidate’s extracurricular profile, the required essay, personal recommendations, and other pertinent information to select a class with the academic talent and personal qualities that are the best fit for the University.”
The decision to implement a test-optional policy, under consideration for more than a year, was endorsed by the Undergraduate Board and approved by the Academic Senate at their first meeting of the academic year in mid-September.
The test-optional policy at Catholic University will be offered as a pilot program for the next five years. First-year academic performance and retention and graduation rates for submitters and nonsubmitters of test scores will be studied during the pilot program and evaluated before the policy is made permanent. To support academic advisement and assist with the necessary studies for assessment of the pilot program, students who choose to enroll will be required to submit their test scores after enrollment.