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University of Denver Moves to “Test-Optional” Admission Process

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Madeline Phipps

Prospective undergraduates will have the option to withhold SAT or ACT test scores when they apply

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University Hall

Prospective undergraduates applying to the University of Denver for admission in the fall of 2020 and beyond will no longer be required to include their SAT or ACT test scores with their applications. Beginning this fall, the University will move to a test-optional system, giving students the choice to submit or withhold their test scores.

“The University of Denver is committed to access, equity and diversity, and this decision strengthens that commitment,” said Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “A test-optional admission 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.”

Studies have shown that high school grades are the best predictor of first-year college performance, and that standardized test scores have a low correlation with persistence and graduation.

The test-optional policy will make the admission process more student-centered, and will allow prospective students to better customize how their academic profile is presented. Students who believe their test scores accurately represent their academic abilities are still encouraged to submit them with their application.

“Oftentimes an ACT or SAT score is more reflective of a student’s economic background and the resources of their school, rather than demonstrating the student’s academic abilities and college preparedness,” said Todd Rinehart, vice chancellor for enrollment. “We want to place our focus on curriculum and performance in school, and provide students the choice as to how their academic record is presented.”

Academic performance in high school has and will continue to be the most important factor in the University’s admission decisions, and by making this policy change, the University will emphasize academic factors that are more predictive of college success.

“As we continue to strive toward a more diverse class of students, we expect that this decision will allow us to be more inclusive of low-income and first-generation students, as well as those with different learning styles and talents,” Rinehart said. “This policy will allow us to consider prospective students holistically.”

By going test-optional, the University will allow applicants to present an academic profile that best represents who they are as a student, and will base decisions on the factors that are most predictive of first-year success.  

As a test-optional school, the University will join more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. who utilize flexible testing options for admission, including the University of Chicago, American University and Wake Forest University.

“We are pleased to join these institutions in leading a growing trend to widen assessments of student potential. Our decision to adopt a test-optional admission process allows the University of Denver to broaden its evaluation of prospective students, which we expect to ultimately impact our campus community in a number of positive ways,” said Provost Jeremy Haefner. 

Visit the undergraduate admission website to learn more about the test-optional policy.