Xavier University recently joined the increasingly popular movement to make standardized tests optional by removing the SAT and ACT requirement from its admission process.
The private Jesuit institution in Cincinnati announced in August that it will focus on prospective students’ grades as well as extracurriculars like clubs, sports and jobs rather than a generalized test system.
The intention, according to Aaron Meis, Xavier’s vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, is to foster a more wide-ranging admissions process. “Every undergraduate application submitted to Xavier already receives a holistic review,” he said in a statement. “One single item does not determine admissibility, and a test-optional policy allows students to demonstrate their abilities in other ways,” the Cincinnati Enquirer cited.
Meis went on to explain that tests such as the SAT and ACT don’t always accurately reflect what a student has to offer, while putting more stress on the student because of the cost of the test and the preparation for it.
Doug Ruschman, Associate Vice President of Xavier’s Marketing and Communications, also cited stress on busy high school students as one of the factors contributing to this decision. He hopes Xavier can “alleviate the burden and anxiety” on applicants and increase the number of diverse candidates for admission.
Diversity is favored by a test-optional admissions process, says Xavier, because standardized tests do not account for socioeconomic background and thus do not offer a fair chance for everyone to show their true potential. A recent study goes so far as to say that “the SAT favors rich, educated families.” Xavier hopes that students of all types of backgrounds will feel more at ease to apply for admission if they are given alternate ways to prove themselves.
This is affirmed by the Admissions FAQ webpage for the university, which states: “If you have a strong academic record demonstrated by above average grades in challenging courses, but do not feel your test results are a good reflection of your academic performance, you can choose not to submit them.”
Test scores are, however, still required for student athletes and home-schooled students to be admitted. They are also required for acceptance into the nursing program, the Classics and Philosophy Honors Bachelor of Arts (CPHAB) honors program, and Philosophy, Politics and The Public (PPP) honors programs.
The other area where the university uses test scores is for the reception of scholarships. All students are considered for merit scholarships regardless of test scores, but scores are still required for the Competitive Scholarship competition, according to the university website.
Additionally, accepted students are requested to submit scores for research purposes of the University.
More than half of the Jesuit universities in the country are making tests optional, according to WLWT Cincinnati, following the open testing formula endorsed by The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. The Center reports that hundreds of universities are opting for the test-optional policy. It also provides resources on why and how schools choose to go Test Optional, and provides lists of schools that are test optional, test flexible, or just deemphasize the importance of such scores.
It remains to be seen what the effects of this change will be on the student body at Xavier and the university at large. Neither Meis nor Ruschman responded to requests from The Ohio Star for further comment.
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Allegra Thatcher is a reporter at The Ohio Star.
Photo “Xavier University” by Xavier University.