UW-Madison drops standardized test requirements for fall 2020 applicants.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will not require SAT or ACT scores from prospective students applying during fall 2020. Photo: Richard Hurd, licensed under creative commons.

Author: Sam Buisman

The UW-Madison drops its standardized testing requirement for fall 2020 applicants to account for coronavirus restrictions. 

According to a news release, UW-Madison will not require prospective students to submit an ACT or SAT score as part of their application throughout this fall, acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have prevented many students from taking standardized tests. The UW remains confident that it can maintain the quality of its selection process and its students without relying on such test scores. 

Director of Admissions and Recruitment André E. Phillips said in the release that UW-Madison is well-prepared for such a change, as its admissions process has never put an overbearing weight on test scores.

“Our admissions process has always considered the whole student, not just a test score,” said Phillips. “While we value strong academic ability, we also look for things like leadership experience, community service, extracurricular participation, creativity and passion. We want to see personal characteristics that will contribute true strength and diversity to the university.” 

For students who do not submit test scores, admissions officials will rely on the student’s high school grades, writing samples, course rigor and letters of recommendation to determine their academic abilities. 

Additionally, UW researchers will use this anomalous rule change to study how not requiring test scores may impact the incoming class, a hot topic in education research. 

While this current exception only lasts through fall 2020, the University said that it plans to appeal to the Board of Regents for a longer extension.