St. Edward’s becomes test-optional university, plans to reduce stress for applicants

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St. Edward’s University has joined the growing list of universities and colleges that are test-optional. This is in an attempt to decrease the stressors high school seniors are facing from from the pandemic.

On Sept. 13, St. Edward’s University announced on Twitter that they will be a test-optional university beginning Fall 2021. This means the university will no longer require standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT as a part of the admissions application.

Currently, the requirements for admission to St. Edward’s are an online application through St. Edward’s, ApplyTexas or the Common Application, a high school transcript, a recommendation letter and an essay where admissions officers can get to know prospective students. If applicable, an admission fee and copy of permanent residence card may also be required.

Tracy Manier, vice president for enrollment engagement at St. Edward’s, explained that a huge reason St. Edward’s adopted the test-optional policy was to give students a break when it came to the college search process, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve said, ‘This is an unprecedented year, your whole life has been turned upside down, your college search has been really disrupted, you don’t need any more stress in your life. So we’re saying to you right now, this is not important. We don’t need it to evaluate you and we care too much about your health and safety,’” Manier said.

She also spoke to the inequities that show wealth contributes to success in standardized testing, saying that we are “still seeing very widespread patterns of higher test scores correlating to economics. And as long as that exists, it really can never be considered a fair measure of someone’s ability to be successful in college.”

Drew Nichols, a St. Edward’s admission counselor, also pointed to this idea.

“Students who are already disadvantaged through the admission process could be further disadvantaged through having to submit a test. In the interest of access and equity, we wanted to make sure we felt like it was a really good decision for the university and very much in line with our mission,” Nichols said.

Manier also stressed that the decision to not require test scores should not deter students from taking the exams if they need them for other applications.

The St. Edward’s website outlines this as well: “As you decide whether to take an SAT or ACT this fall, we encourage you to review the admission requirements of all colleges where you plan to apply and plan accordingly. If you do not need to take a test to apply to other schools, St. Edward’s would encourage you to choose the option of not testing.”

According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), two-thirds of U.S. colleges and universities have now become test-optional or test-blind beginning in the Fall 2021 semester.

If students still want to submit their test scores despite it not being required, Nichols said “we would be happy to consider it the way that we would consider any piece of information that a student submits to us that that strengthens their file or gives us a more holistic view of who they are and what they could contribute.”

FairTest highlights 59 select schools that will not consider test scores at all, even if they are submitted.