ACT or SAT scores have long been an important aspect of the college application process, but due to restrictions in testing availability caused by COVID-19, Miami University is continuing its suspension of the standardized test requirement for applicants through spring 2023.
Students submitting an application to Miami will have the option to submit their ACT or SAT score but aren’t required to. The Test Optional FAQs web page states, “If provided, test scores can only help your candidacy for admission, scholarships and honors programs.”
Miami’s shift to a test optional policy is temporary, but several colleges and universities have adopted permanent changes, including Denison University and the University of Chicago.
Bethany Perkins, assistant vice president and director of admission, said Miami will continuously evaluate the test optional policy and consider the possibility of making the change permanent.
“There’s of course the possibility that we will make this a permanent option,” Perkins said. “But we think we have the time right now to learn for a few years of test optional policies about how this impacts our yield predictions, retention and graduation.”
Perkins said the volume of applications to Miami has increased since the suspension of the standardized test score requirement; about 40% of applicants chose not to include a standardized test score.
Last year’s application season was the first time Miami had a test optional policy. This was because the COVID-19 pandemic restricted testing availability and continues to impact students and admissions officers nationwide.
“We have students last year and this year who are going through the application process at varying levels of readiness for the test, varying levels of access to testing,” Perkins said.
Standardized tests are just one piece of a college application. Miami describes its admissions process as holistic: evaluating an applicant’s high school curriculum and performance, application essays, extracurricular activities and significant achievements, regardless of the inclusion of standardized test scores.
Micah Gretta, a first-year university studies major, said he feels not submitting his ACT score ultimately helped his application.
“I had planned on applying anyway,” Gretta said. “But I was under the impression that I might not get into Miami with my ACT score at the time. I think my essay and GPA made up for my lack of ACT score.”
As a Public Ivy, Miami is largely considered an academically rigorous school, a reach school for many applicants. For students who struggle with standardized testing or are not happy with their scores, excluding their test scores makes Miami a more accessible option.
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“I do think it made Miami more accessible as I had trouble with ACT testing,” Gretta said.
The ability to apply without a standardized test score has influenced the demographic of students applying to Miami.
“Last year, when we announced the suspension of our test score policy, we saw the highest number of applications that Miami has ever seen.” Perkins said. “And we see a higher percentage of underrepresented minority students, of first generation students applying to Miami.”
Leah Vanasdale, a first-year university studies major, submitted her test score to Miami but said she might have made a different decision if she’d performed differently on the test.
“I don’t think it would have really hurt my application to not include the score, since my transcript would have made up for it most likely,” Vanasdale said, “but I definitely think if I wasn’t as happy with my score, I wouldn’t have sent it in.”