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Canisius going test-free for undergrad admissions

Students who apply for the Fall 2024 semester will no longer have their standardized SAT and ACT test scores considered as part of the admissions process.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Canisius College will soon drop "all consideration" of standardized test scores like the SAT and ACT from its admissions process. 

The move comes as more and more colleges and universities nationwide consider the value of such readiness tests when looking at applicants.

Canisius is the first institution in Western New York to announce a test-free policy. It will begin when students start applying for admission in the Fall 2024 semester.

In a statement, Canisius College President Steve K. Stoute said the policy will "free" the college to empower students and express who they really are.

“Canisius College is where leaders are made and leadership in the modern world means responding to our most pressing challenges with non-standard answers,” Stoute said.

The most high-profile American University to ditch standardized scores was Harvard, which announced last year that test scores would be waived for the class of 2025 and 2026.

Canisius implemented a test-optional policy in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the college said they've seen an 18% increase in applications and an admittance pool that is 12% larger, including an increase of students of color from 37% to 44%.

Stoute added that students from their last two classes who did not submit a standardized test have performed just as well as their peers who did. 

“Standardized tests are just one of many factors Canisius historically utilized in the admissions process but they may be among the least valuable predictors of success,” Stoute said.

Countless studies have found that high school performance remains the best predictor for performance in higher education.

Some have argued that standardized tests like the ACT and SAT unfairly advantage students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, who are more likely to afford tutoring and other preparatory test services.

Stoute explained to supplement the standardized tests, an extra personal essay, an interview with a Canisius alum or staff member, or a personal portfolio could be considered.

Colleges across the country saw enrollment drop during the COVID-19 pandemic, so 2 On Your Side asked the President whether the policy move is simply an initiative to increase enrollment, and he responded.

"No, because that's not guaranteed to happen."

"If the end result is enrollment goes up and our students are more diverse than they ever have been and they come from outside our primary geographic market then great but that is not the reason we did it," Stoute said. 

In a recent report by the organization FairTest, an advocacy group that opposes standardized testing, they found over 1,835 colleges across the U.S. will be SAT/ACT test-optional for the upcoming fall 2023 semester.

Canisius will be joining the nationwide trend one year after that. It will also be one of only two Jesuit institutions with such a policy in the U.S.

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