Queens University is making SATs and ACTs optional for prospective undergrads

Queens University is making SATs and ACTs optional for prospective undergrads
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Queens University is making standardized testing optional for prospective undergraduate students.

The move is a way to remove admissions barriers for low-income students, and to ultimately diversify the student body, according to Jennifer Johnson, the private university’s vice president for admissions and marketing.

There’s an inherent bias against low-income applicants built into the standardized test requirements, Johnson told the Agenda.

Applicants with financial means take SAT and ACT prep courses. They’re able to take the tests multiple times if they don’t score as highly as they’d like. Those tests, and the preparation required for them, can get expensive, Johnson said.

“We just want to do everything we can to eliminate any disadvantage for students who don’t have those resources.”

Instead, Queens will take a “holistic approach,” Johnson said, and look at a range of criteria, including essays, high school curriculum, extracurricular activities and teacher recommendations.

The new admissions rule takes effect for fall 2020 applicants.

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Zoom out: Queens is the latest of a growing number of colleges and universities that don’t require standardized test scores. Applicants have the option to submit SAT or ACT scores at schools like University of Chicago, New York University and George Washington University.

Wake Forest University announced in May 2008 that it would no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT test scores. Between fall 2008, the final year standardized test scores were required, and fall 2017, ethnic diversity in the undergraduate population increased by 90 percent, according to the school.

Queens’ decision to make standardized testing optional comes months after prosecutors charged dozens in a major college admissions bribery scandal. In a few cases, parents paid test-takers to impersonate their kids.

Johnson said Queens had been considering doing away with standardized test requirements long before that scandal broke, though.

Other changes at Queens: Daniel Lugo took over as the new president of Queens University last month. Before coming to Queens, Lugo was vice president for college advancement at Colby College in Maine. He succeeds Pamela Davies, who retired after 17 years at the university.

Lugo has long championed expanding access to higher education, Johnson said.

“The fact that Queens’ vision and (Lugo’s) aligned immediately on this topic was perfect,” she said.

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