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Stanford University Extends Test-Optional Admissions For Another Year

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at November 11, 2021

Stanford University announced on Wednesday that it will extend its test-optional admissions policy for first-year and transfer students applying to the university for admission in 2022-23. 

The decision marks the third consecutive year that Stanford has waived its standardized testing requirement for applicants, a change that began as a response to the multiple difficulties the Covid-19 pandemic posed to test-takers.

“We recognize the ongoing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including limited access to admission testing worldwide, and as a result, we are extending this year’s test optional policy,” the Office of Undergraduate Admission said in the announcement.

Stanford said it was committed to a” holistic review of all candidates,” and that it would consider the “vast array of information provided in and with each student’s application, whether that information includes test scores or not.” While applicants may continue to self-report test scores in their application if they want, Stanford reassured those who apply without test scores that they will not be at a disadvantage.

According to reporting in The Stanford Daily, the university’ s decision to continue the test-optional policy comes after it experienced a record-low acceptance rate of 3.95% for the class of 2025, nearly 25% lower than the 5.19% acceptance rate for the class of 2024. Stanford also received a record-breaking 55,471 applications to the class of 2025.

Stanford’s decision is another in what’s become a long line of setbacks for the standardized testing industry, but it packs an extra punch because of Stanford’s reputation as one of the world’s premier universities.

The number of students who took the ACT in 2021 declined by 22% from the previous year, representing a drop of more than 375,000, from nearly 1.7 million test-takers in 2020 to just under 1.3 million in 2021. Although the number of ACT test-takers has declined each of the past four years, this year’s decrease was by far the largest annual drop-off. Compared to 2017, when more than two million students took the ACT, the 2021 number represents a 36% cumulative decrease, equal to 735,000 fewer students taking the test.

The continuing demise of standardized admission testing is also confirmed by the fact that 700,000 fewer students in the high school class of 2021 took the SAT this year. 

Nearly 1,800 U.S. colleges and universities will not require ACT or SAT scores from applicants seeking to enroll in fall 2022, according to a list maintained by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). More than three-quarters of all U.S. bachelor degree-granting institutions now practice test-optional or test-blind admissions, an all-time high.

Standardized testing critics applauded Stanford’s move. FairTest Executive Director Bob Schaeffer, a leading voice in the anti-test movement, said that more than half of all colleges and universities in the nation have already committed to remaining test-optional or test-blind for fall 2023 applicants.

But, Schaeffer added, admissions offices that are not yet ready to make their ACT/SAT-optional or test-blind/score-free policies permanent should, like Stanford, “extend their test submission suspensions for another year or more in order to gather meaningful data about their impacts.”

According to Schaeffer, the results of not requiring test scores have been very positive so far in terms of number of applicants, their academic quality and diversity. But, he also said. “it will take more time to assess key outcomes, such as grade point averages, retention and graduation rates.”

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