To submit or not to submit: the lingering fog from the COVID-19 pandemic 

UF remains a test optional institution for ACT and SAT scores 

By Lauren Wolters

Some of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain prevalent still, three years after schools and businesses first shut down in March of 2020. Some of these effects allow education systems to be more accommodating to students. An example of this is that many colleges are no longer requiring students to submit ACT or SAT scores for admission. 

According to a standardized test researcher in a news article from Denver 7 applicant submission of ACT and SAT scores is optional for more than 1,800 institutions. 

The University of Findlay finds itself among the institutions that altered their admissions requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email interview, Nikki Hintze, the assistant vice president for admissions explained how admission processes have changed. 

“Since COVID-19, we have been on a year-to-year test optional approval,” Hintze said. “It is not currently required for admission but used for scholarship events.” 

Before the pandemic, UF required an ACT composite score of 20 or an SAT composite score of 950 for first-time freshmen and transfer students with less than twelve transfer credits. In addition to this, applicants also had to submit their class rank and have a GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. 

These requirements are still in place for UF’s scholarship events. However, for students that were unable to take a standardized test due to the pandemic, they can submit a letter of recommendation, have an interview with UF personnel, and submit a graded writing sample and still be considered for the scholarship events. UF’s undergraduate admissions website provides more information regarding the admission requirements for first-time freshmen. 

Hintze further explained that as of now this change is not permanent, and it is unknown to the admissions office if UF will ever permanently make the submission of standardized test scores optional. 

Hintze said that GPA is the main determinant for UF applicants who do not submit a standardized test score. Making score submissions optional can be especially beneficial to students who have a high GPA but did not test as well. Opposingly, Hintze explains that submission of ACT or SAT scores can boost students with a lower GPA. 

“As a test optional institution–for the time being—ACT or SAT scores cannot hinder a student’s admissions decision, but it can be used to help a student with a lower GPA,” Hintze said. 

The Denver 7 article mentioned a six-year study conducted at a college in Philadelphia where 80% of faculty voted to make standardized test scores optional to applicants. The study found no statistical difference in student retention rates or four-year graduation rates within the six-year period. In fact, optional score submission increased the number of applicants for the university, making more demographics eligible to attend. 

“Many institutions stopped requiring [test scores] because of COVID-19 and the decrease of test options,” Hintze said. “Once [some] universities determined a way around it, they made the decision to not go back. At UF, we are still currently going year-by-year with the approach that scores can help a student but not be used against them.” 

With the fog of the COVID-19 pandemic starting to lift, more research will likely emerge on how optional test score submission impacts students’ college experience. With this research, UF and other universities may reassess their own policies yet again.