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University of Utah drops ACT/SAT testing requirements

FILE: Campus gates near President's Circle at the U of U. Credit: Paul Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah says that new admissions to the school will not have to submit their test scores for either the SAT or the ACT.

This is part of a two-year pilot study the university is making that will begin with incoming students in the fall 2021 semester.

“This is the right time to try a standardized test-optional admissions process for several reasons,” said Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president for enrollment management at the U.

“Our goal is always to make applying to the U as accessible as possible. We know students may be having a difficult time taking the standardized tests due to the coronavirus pandemic, and even before that, we were looking at this as a way to decrease some of the costs and complexities associated with the application process.”


In addition to the changes at the U, Westminster College in Salt Lake City is also dropping the standardized tests as part of it’s admissions process, but they will be moving away from the model permanently. 

The admissions office at Westminster says that they hope the move will create a more “holistic review” of incoming students. Instead of relying on the ACT or SAT, students will submit essays, recommendations from teachers, as well as extracurricular activities or leadership positions they have held. 

“The transition to a more holistic review has been part of the admissions office and the enrollment vision as a whole,” Quincey Otuafi, director of undergraduate admissions told the student newspaper The Forum.

She says that this decision comes after years of conversations that the school has had.

The U says that there will be some exceptions for the first year of this new policy. They say that students who do not earn a GPA that is directly comparable to other high school students, like a student with a GED or one who graduated from non-accredited high schools, will still be required to submit a standardized test score.

They say that a score from either of the standardized tests will also be required for direct admissions to select programs and merit scholarships. The U says that the deadlines to submit those scores will likely be pushed back though due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Student safety and accessibility are top of mind for us in making this decision,” Robinson said in a release. “We will be implementing new methods and technology over the next two years to ensure the admissions process remains comprehensive despite no longer receiving standardized test scores. We look forward to the results of the pilot to determine whether this may be a permanent change for the U.”

The deadline for admissions for the fall 2021 semester at the U is February 15.

See also:

University of Utah expects students back in fall