DU’s decision to move to a test-optional policy:
At the University of Denver, we believe in a holistic review of our applicants. A full review of submitted application materials – focusing especially on the high school record – is key to knowing a student’s preparedness and academic abilities over time. We believe in diving deep into your life experiences, your passions and your engagement within the community. Our process also recognizes the value of standardized tests as a piece of the review process. An ACT or SAT score can provide useful information which we will consider alongside the other required application materials.
However, we know there are times when students may feel that an ACT or SAT score does not accurately represent their academic abilities. We also understand that circumstances sometimes exist that do not allow for the tests to be taken. There is sufficient evidence that standardized testing does not reflect the true academic capacities of some individuals. With these and other considerations in mind, the University of Denver adopted a test-optional policy in 2019.
This policy change aligns with our admission philosophy and supports DU’s vision to be a great private university dedicated to the public good. As stated by Chancellor Emerita Rebecca Chopp, “The University of Denver is committed to access, equity and diversity, and this decision strengthens that commitment. A test-optional admissions process aligns with our strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025, by removing barriers for those who may lack standardized test-prep resources but who are exceptional students.”
Choosing whether or not to submit test scores for consideration:
We encourage you to take the SAT and/or ACT standardized tests. If you are able to take the ACT and/or SAT and you believe your scores are an accurate representation of your ability, please send them our way. We will consider these scores along with all other materials in your application file – staying consistent with our holistic review process.
However, we understand the unique challenges this year in terms of scheduling and taking the ACT and/or SAT. If for any reason you have chosen not to take one of these tests this year, have been unable to test due to cancellations, or believe your scores don’t accurately reflect your academic abilities, feel free to choose our test-optional process. We will then evaluate your application without considering this information, while maintaining a holistic review process. Your application will not be penalized in any way, and you will still be considered for all merit scholarships as well.
If you would like to further explore if this option could be the right fit for you, please feel free to contact your admission counselor.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to apply test-optional:
In order to remove the typically required item of “test score” from your application checklist, please be sure to indicate that you will be applying through our test-optional process on the Common Application. Please note that, if you select this option, test scores will not be used (even if submitted) for admission or merit scholarship consideration.
How do we evaluate students who do not submit standardized test scores?
We will review all other required materials including your Common Application, essay, official high school transcript, and counselor recommendation. We will closely evaluate your high school work – curriculum, trends in grades and how you have challenged yourself. We will delve into your involvement in high school – extracurricular activities, leadership and community engagement. Your counselor recommendation will also help us understand you in the context of your school and how you have performed overall.
Will I be at a disadvantage if I decide not to submit standardized test scores?
No. There will be no negative impact on your application.
Why would a student submit standardized test scores if they don’t have to?
For some students, their test scores accurately reflect their academic abilities and might even give a more complete picture of achievement and potential.
Will I be eligible for merit scholarships if I apply test-optional?
Yes, test-optional applicants are eligible for merit awards. Our top awards are very competitive, but the vast majority of applicants*, with or without standardized testing, will be considered for merit scholarships. Notification regarding merit aid is included in the admission decision letter.
*Please refer to the Exceptions section below.
What if I am a home schooled student?
For home schooled students, the test-optional policy is the same. We encourage you to take the SAT and/or ACT standardized tests. Once you receive your results, if you think your scores are an accurate representation of your ability, please send them our way. If you ultimately decide your test scores do not represent your abilities and potential, feel free to choose our test-optional process.
Exceptions to the test-optional policy:
- If you are a student attending a non-graded high school that does not provide a letter or numerical grade, you are required to submit official ACT or SAT scores with your application. (Due to COVID-19, we will evaluate special circumstances on a case-by-case basis for students unable to take a standardized test.)
- Applicants who would like to be considered for the 6-Year Bachelor/JD Program are required to submit official ACT or SAT scores.
- Prospective NCAA Division I student-athletes starting college during the 2021-2022 or 2022-2023 academic years may choose to apply for admission to DU as test-optional applicants and do not need to submit test scores to the NCAA.
- International applicants who are non-native English speakers must submit an acceptable score on either the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or CAE (Cambridge English: Advanced) to be admitted into a degree program. Those admitted conditionally (without proof of English proficiency) must submit sufficient scores by July 1. After this date, students must begin their studies at an approved off-campus English language center before enrolling in their degree programs. Details on English proficiency requirements and exemptions for international applicants can be found here.