This brief discusses the equity implications of requiring college applicants to submit an SAT or ACT score as part of their application for admission, considerations for college leaders examining test-optional polices, and ways in which test-free policies may address equity concerns related to standardized tests in college admissions. The brief concludes with recommendations for college leaders and admissions officers who seek more equitable admissions practices.

All higher education institutions should value the importance of a diverse and inclusive student body, and test-free policies can be helpful in broadening access and opportunity for students from all backgrounds and income levels. As a result of the pandemic, over 1,700 colleges use “test-optional” policies, meaning that they have made SAT/ACT score submission optional. Test-free and test-optional policies offer institutions a way to communicate their values and signal that they welcome students from all backgrounds.