The trend of not requiring students to submit SAT or ACT scores in US colleges and universities, which was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to persist, as an overwhelming majority of these institutions still follow this approach.

As per FairTest, an advocacy group against standardized tests that monitors the number of colleges requiring test scores for admission, 1,075 out of 2,278 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions, or 47%, had already shifted to a test-optional admissions application before the COVID-19 pandemic. This number has now surged to 1,839, which corresponds to almost 81% of all colleges and universities.

When the pandemic started in March 2020, the College Board, which administers the SAT, canceled several testing dates. Consequently, 625 more schools did not demand test scores from fall 2020 applicants. Nonetheless, FairTest informed the Washington Examiner that most colleges with competitive admissions had already stopped accepting applications by the time the pandemic lockdowns started.

For the fall of 2021, 1,775 colleges implemented test-optional admissions, and this number increased to 1,835 in 2022 and 1,839 for the fall of 2023, despite SAT testing schedules resuming as normal and the pandemic gradually receding. Currently, 1,460 institutions have permanently shifted to test-optional admissions, according to FairTest.

The College Board stated to the Washington Examiner that their primary objective is to improve access to college education, which was also the reason for their foundation along with the SAT. The College Board stated that almost 1.3 million US students in the class of 2022 had SAT scores that matched or exceeded their high school GPA, highlighting the strength of the test scores in their college applications.

“To consider every student fairly, colleges look at much more than grades,” the College Board said. “The SAT is widely available to millions of students to help them stand out on their application — and more students are taking it for free in their school during the school day. Evidence shows that when colleges consider SAT scores in the context of where students live and go to school … the SAT helps increase diversity.”

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