COVID-19 spares incoming freshmen from SAT, ACT requirements

Baylor accommodated students with no standardized test scores for both the admissions cycle and scholarship events for the incoming class of 2025. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Annaleise Parsons | Staff Writer

With the COVID-19 pandemic, college-entry standardized tests like the SAT and ACT have not been available for college applicants across the country. Baylor, like other schools, has made these tests optional for incoming freshmen.

“Due to testing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Baylor University will be test-optional for 2020-2021. We understand that students this year may make their decision about how to apply based on a lack of access to testing.” Baylor University wrote on the admissions website.

Annah Miller, an incoming freshman from Jackson, Tenn., said she applied without test scores due to personal choice.

“I do not think my test scores defined my academic ability, and I wanted Baylor to look at me as an individual and not how well I could test,” Miller said.

College Board, the company who creates and proctors the SAT exam that scores college readiness, announced that there is limited seating at local testing centers and that exams can be cancelled by test centers up to the day of. Students must also wear a mask for the duration of the exam and sign a list of statements that confirm that they do not have any symptoms.

“The College Board has asked colleges to extend deadlines for receiving test scores and to equally consider students for admission who are unable to take the test due to covid-19,” College Board wrote on the SAT coronavirus updates webpage.

Mary Grace Apostol, an incoming freshman from Augusta, Ga., said she found that standardized testing sites were often shut down.

“The pandemic made standardized testing hard because my test sites kept closing down, but thankfully in my area I was able to get into a testing site in the fall,” Apostol said.

Many other colleges and universities have also made standardized tests optional for their admissions cycle due to the pandemic including Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Austin.

In previous years, Baylor scholarship programs such as Invitation to Excellence and Getterman Scholars were based on students’ test scores for eligibility. However, due to the test-optional process this year, Baylor has opened up the scholarship programs to applications without a standardized test score and has instead based eligibility for scholarships on academic performance.

“Students should review specific program descriptions to learn more about the academic profile of students who are typically accepted into each program. Then apply for the programs that sound like a good match with your academic record.” Baylor admissions website wrote.

Test-optional applications are not available to every student applying to Baylor.

“Applicants who are homeschooled [or]…attend a high school that provides narrative evaluation rather than grading scale [or]…graduating early” must provide test scores and can not opt out, Baylor admissions website said.

Some students applied with test scores because of uncertainty surrounding Baylor scholarship qualifications earlier this academic year.

“I applied with test scores because I wanted to get the most scholarships I could, and I wasn’t sure how Baylor was going to be able to give out money without scores so I figured better safe than sorry,” Apostol said.