U. of Texas at Austin Will Return to Standardized Test Requirement

The University of Texas at Austin said Monday that it would again require standardized tests for admissions, becoming the latest selective university to reinstate requirements for SAT or ACT scores that were abandoned during the pandemic.

A few years ago, about 2,000 colleges across the country began to move away from requiring test scores, at least temporarily, amid concerns they helped fuel inequality. But a growing number of those schools have reversed those policies, including Brown, Yale, Dartmouth, M.I.T., Georgetown and Purdue, with several announcing the changes in recent months.
U.T. Austin, which admits a cross-section of high-achieving Texas students under a plan designed to increase opportunity in the state, cited a slightly different reason than the other schools in returning to test requirements. Without requiring test scores, officials said, they were hampered in placing the admitted students in programs they would be most suited for and in determining which ones needed extra help. After making test scores optional the past few years, the university will now require applicants to submit either SAT or ACT scores beginning Aug. 1, with applications for fall 2025 admissions.

In an interview, Jay Hartzell, the U.T. president, said that the decision followed an analysis of students who did not submit scores. “We looked at our students and found that, in many ways, they weren’t faring as well,” Dr. Hartzell said.

Those against testing requirements have long said that standardized tests are unfair because many students from affluent families use tutors and coaches to bolster their scores. But recent data has raised questions about the contention. In reinstating test requirements, some universities have said that making scores optional had the unintended effect of harming prospective students from low-income families.

Brown, for example, said that some students from less-advantaged backgrounds had chosen not to submit scores under the test-optional policy, even when submitting them could have actually increased their chances of being admitted.

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