Standardized test-optional application process raises questions

Katya Bandouil

UT waiving standardized testing requirements for the 2021-22 application cycle made some prospective students feel left behind.

Matilda Herrera Ramirez, Communication Arts High School senior, said she was unable to take the SAT or ACT due to COVID-19 restrictions in her town. She said she would have otherwise taken the tests and submitted her scores to UT as a part of her application.

“It did feel quite unfair,” Herrera Ramirez said. “I know many students were in the same boat as I was of not having been able to take a test, so it didn’t feel like a choice to submit it or not but rather a question of having a score or not.”

UT waived the ACT/SAT requirement for applicants due to testing limitations because of COVID-19, according to the UT News website. By making the tests optional, some high school students who were unable to take the SAT or ACT said they feel it is hard and unfair to compete with others who applied for UT and submitted their scores.  

Miguel Wasielewski, executive director of admissions, said the University utilizes a holistic application review process in which no factor bears more weight than any other factor — allowing for some parts to be optional, such as testing scores and letters of recommendation. 

“If a student feels like whatever they have access to provides a different angle on explaining who they are, those are important components that we want to be able to see,” Wasielewski said. “But we didn’t want to make (standardized testing scores) a barrier for students.”

 



Wasielewski said the application judges undergo implicit bias training every year to ensure holistic review standards are followed.

Arjun Bhargava, McKinney High School senior, said he took the SAT and submitted his score as a part of his UT application.

“I live in an area where testing was still conducted, and I had the resources and time to receive a score that I felt good about,” Bhargava said. “These are two privileges that many students do not have.”

Plan II senior Irene Ameena said the ultimate goal should be to stop using standardizing testing altogether.

The standardized testing requirement will be reinstated for the 2022-23 application cycle, Wasielewski said. 

“If we feel that we need to waive (standardized testing) requirements again, we’ll certainly pursue that as an option,” Wasielewski said.