EWU Becomes Test-Optional to Increase Equity in College Admissions

May 18, 2020 By David Meany
EWU Traditional New Student Photo

Eastern Washington University announced that it will no longer require freshman or transfer applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission, starting immediately.

“This decision demonstrates EWU’s commitment to its mission to provide the opportunity for personal transformation through excellence in learning,” said Provost David May. “EWU is making this decision after deep deliberation and broad consultation with academic leaders, students and their families, and experts in college equity and testing.”

EWU had previously announced plans to temporarily waive the SAT and ACT requirement for students impacted by COVID-19. Today’s announcement makes that change permanent for all future students.

EWU and The Evergreen State College are the only public four-year universities in Washington State that have joined the test-optional movement. More than 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities—including over 400 of the nation’s most selective institutions—no longer require prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores.

“Tests don’t always prove helpful in our ability to predict how well a student will succeed in college,” said Jens Larson, EWU associate vice president for enrollment. “Evidence tends to suggest the hard work students do in high school is just as predictive.”

“We also see ample evidence that standardized tests can give advantages to students who already have advantages, like coming from a high-income family or attending a wealthier school district,” said Larson.

The new policy follows the natural evolution of EWU’s admissions approach, which in recent years has prioritized a student’s ability to demonstrate sustained success in academic settings.

The impact for students could be very beneficial, said Larson, who noted that testing has been deeply disrupted by COVID-19 and that the tests themselves usually cost more than a college application. EWU offers the lowest tuition and fees of all Washington’s public universities.

“As the world and the region adapt to the impacts of COVID-19, we want to work to provide maximum opportunity for every future student to join us and succeed,” May said. “That’s just one way we serve the region and the state’s population.”

Students may still choose to submit test scores as part of an admissions application. All applicants, regardless of test scores, will receive the same consideration. Test scores will not be considered when awarding university merit scholarships.

It is hoped that EWU’s decision will reduce stress and complexity for students, families, and high schools.

Students applying to EWU should contact the admissions office at admissions@ewu.edu if they have questions or concerns about their test scores or the admission process.

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