- College applicants are still not providing SAT or ACT scores at the same rate as before the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from the Common Application.
- Only 43% of applicants submitted entrance exam scores to Common App member institutions for the 2022-23 academic year. This is almost exactly the same proportion as the previous year, but much lower than before the pandemic. In 2019–20, almost three-quarters of applicants sent their university assessment results.
- These trends follow a significant number of colleges moving to test-optional policies, which is reflected in the Common App data. Only 4% of their member schools mandated admissions test scores in 2022-23, down from 55% in 2019-20.
The optional test campaign has exploded in higher education. Once a flourishing movement, the test was optional the pandemic accelerated because common testing sites, such as K-12 schools, were closed.
Some institutions have temporarily adopted optional exams, while others adopt no-exam policies and refuse to consider exam results at all.
Overall, more than 1,800 colleges do not require test scores for the fall 2023 admissions cycle, according to FairTest, an advocacy organization advocating for limited use of standardized assessments. This number includes colleges that have historically never asked for scores.
Data from the Common App — an online portal that allows students to apply to more than 1,000 participating colleges — shows that the role of tests in admissions continues to decline, even as pandemic restrictions ease.
The proportion of applicants sent scores dropped to 40% in the 2020-21 academic year, when stricter COVID-19 precautions were in place. In order to properly analyze year-over-year comparisons, the Common App included only the 841 institutions that participated in the 2019-20 academic year in its new analysis.
Only 35% of students from the lowest income group sent scores in 2022-23, about the same proportion as in the previous two years. In 2019–20, about 67% of the lowest income applicants provided a score.
Experts say the SAT and ACT most disadvantage low-income and other historically marginalized applicants because they can’t afford as extensive tutoring as their more affluent peers. Indeed, high test scores correlate with wealth.
Nearly half of applicants in the highest income bracket delivered college scores in 2022-23, according to the Common App. More than three-quarters of these applicants provided scores in 2019-2020.
Tests submitted also differed by gender, with 48% of men submitting scores in 2022-23 compared to just 40% of women. Almost equal proportions of men and women – 75% and 73% respectively – scored in 2019–20.