From Test-Optional to Test-Required: Georgia System First To Reverse Course

Both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Chronicle of Higher Education reported today that the University System of Georgia has decided to require SAT and ACT scores for all campuses beginning with Spring 2022 applicants. Thus, the students that will apply for Fall 2022 admission (current high school juniors) will be required to submit scores when they apply this fall.

If you access the Chronicle article you’ll read anonymous quotes from admission leaders in the Georgia system who are clearly unhappy with this decision (one stated that “system leaders believe that tests are how admissions should be done”). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quotes Robert Schaeffer of FairTest:

“The politically appointed University System of Georgia Board of Regents, most of whom are not educators, are bucking a strong national trend by refusing to extend ACT/SAT optional policies for at least another year. Because they recognize the difficulty many students still face in taking standardized tests, as well as the many biases and flaws of these exams, most colleges and universities including the University of Alabama have decided to not require ACT/SAT scores for fall 2022 applicants. Test-optional admissions are the new normal because admissions experts have learned that test scores do not measure merit.”

I worked under both test-required and test-optional policies and firmly believe that strong qualitative and quantitative decisions can be reached without requiring test scores. It requires a highly trained admissions committee and a more nuanced review of applications, but admitting and enrolling a bright class of motivated students who will succeed in a college classroom can and is done by hundreds of colleges every year. If you really want to get into the weeds and learn more about test-optional student performance, read this foundational study on the topic.

Thus, neighboring schools to my home state of North Carolina are all over the place. UVA and VT are firmly test-optional for 2022 (UVA for 2023 as well). The University of Tennessee – Knoxville and the state institutions in South Carolina have yet to announce their policies for 2022 applicants. Finally, there’s our University Board of Governors here in North Carolina, quiet still on what the 2022 testing requirement will be. If you asked me in January I would have said the policy will be test-optional. Now May 13, I still think that they will follow Virginia’s lead but I’m much less confident. Students deserve to have heard something by now but alas, nothing (last year the policy was not released until July). Let’s hope they do the sensible thing soon.