Campus Leadership

So Long, SATs

For now, standardized tests are optional for UW admission.

Standardized test scantron multiple choice sheet

Freshman applicants will not be penalized for the inability to submit test scores.

For the next two fall enrollment cycles, undergraduate applicants to UW–Madison will not be required to submit ACT or SAT scores. The shift in admissions policy reflects both an immediate response to disruptions caused by COVID-19 and a broader desire to study how such a policy might alter the composition of incoming classes.

The test-optional approach, an extension of an earlier move to accommodate fall 2020 applicants who had limited access to the tests last spring, was approved by the Board of Regents and will affect first-year applicants for spring 2021 through summer 2023. Data gathered and analyzed by university researchers will help determine whether UW–Madison returns to a standardized test requirement.

Under the revised approach, freshman applicants will not be penalized for their inability to submit test scores. In the upcoming enrollment cycles, applicants who’ve taken the ACT or SAT will have the option to self-report their scores if they believe it adds to the totality of their academic record.

“While test scores have been a requirement for an admissions decision, they have always been only a portion of the holistic review we give each and every applicant to UW–Madison,” says André Phillips, director for admissions and recruitment. “Our team is trained to review every aspect of a student’s application — including the context of their school and their individual story — to find students who are best able to succeed at our university and who will exemplify the Wisconsin Idea.”

Published in the Winter 2020 issue


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