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Some universities are reinstating SAT and ACT requirements. Not schools in the Cincinnati area

Xavier University
Zack Carreon
Xavier University

On Monday, New Hampshire's Dartmouth College announced it would reinstate its requirement for applicants to submit SAT and ACT scores to be admitted into the school after suspending the practice in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dartmouth says it plans to remove the extended pause next year after nearly four years, citing a study commissioned by its President Sian Beilock. The study found that high school grades paired with test scores were the best way for the school to determine which students would be successful at the Ivy League institution.

Dartmouth's study also pointed to test scores being a useful tool for the school to identify students from under-resourced high schools who would be a good fit at the college.

"Our overall conclusion is that SAT and ACT scores are a key method by which Dartmouth can identify students who will succeed at Dartmouth, including high-performing students who may attend a high school for which Dartmouth has less information to (fully) judge the transcript," researchers wrote.

Dartmouth wasn't alone in pausing its requirements in 2020. Universities across the country also halted their testing requirements, but many in the Cincinnati area say they're not turning back anytime soon.

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The University of Cincinnati has been test-optional since the pandemic and will remain so for this coming academic year.

UC points to research showing that test-optional policies at universities haven't resulted in an academic slide in recent years and are making campuses accessible to students from lower economic backgrounds as the reason for keeping the policy.

A brief 2021 study from the University of Pennsylvania shows high SAT scores tend to have a strong correlation with a student's household income, while other academic measures like high school GPA and class rank have a weaker correlation to economic status.

UC says it anticipates most of its programs will not require test scores for now, but that could be subject to change next year as faculty review the criteria for fall 2025 and beyond.

Northern Kentucky University also dropped its SAT and ACT requirements in 2020 and began automatically admitting all applicants with a weighted high school GPA of 2.75 or higher.

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Other institutions, like Miami University, agree and even claim becoming test-optional has improved academics. According to Miami, the first two classes admitted for fall 2021 and fall 2022 were the most academically accomplished classes in school history, boasting average GPAs of 3.87 and 3.91. It's also increased the number of overall applicants by 24.7% since 2020.

Miami plans to remain test-optional through 2026.

Some, like Xavier University, waived test requirements before the pandemic. Xavier has been test-optional since August 2019 and a spokesperson for the university says the school plans to remain that way.

The undergraduate admission page on Xavier's website says this is because it has always believed in taking a holistic approach to reviewing applicants and encourages incoming students to tell their own stories through essays, academic achievement, and other activities.

Smaller schools like Thomas More University and Mount St. Joseph also are currently test-optional.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.