Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

University System of Maryland drops SAT/ACT requirement

Johanna Alonso//June 17, 2022

University System of Maryland drops SAT/ACT requirement

By Johanna Alonso

//June 17, 2022

The University System of Maryland has dropped its systemwide rule that member schools require applicants to submit SAT/ACT scores to gain admission.

USM’s Board of Regents voted to change the system’s admissions policy at the board’s Friday meeting. All but two regents, Andrew Smarick and Louis Pope, voted in favor of the change. 

Member universities, if they wish, can maintain a test-score requirement, but the heads of the system’s 12 member institutions appear to broadly support the measure. 

Outgoing University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski III and Darryll Pines, the president of the University of Maryland, College Park,  spoke in favor of test-optional admissions Friday, saying that their intuitions plan to extend their test-optional policies long term.

“Persons of color tend to have biases against them by these tests, and they don’t get in the schools,” Pines said. This has been known historically, that it’s not a good measure for admissions into universities, and that’s why we have 25 other measures at College Park. I think it’s going to really show a lot of good data over the next three to five years for our system to see what is the best approach.”

Hrabowski did note, however, that standardized tests, like the SAT/ACT, can help prepare students for tests they may need to get into graduate school or professional school. 

“From the academic perspective, and the future of our students, we have to send the message, ‘we’ve got to learn these skills,’ particularly reading skills,” he said. 

UMD hopes to remain test-optional until at least 2027, in hopes of providing the institution with sufficient data to evaluate whether the school is still admitting qualified, successful students without using SAT or ACT scores as metrics, Pines said.  

Smarick, formerly the chair of the Maryland Higher Education Commission and president of the Maryland State Board of Education, argued that tests can suss out false negatives — situations where a bad GPA may not be an accurate reflection of their ambition or intellect.

Regent Michelle Gourdine said that, even under a test-optional policy, students could submit standardized test scores if they felt that would boost their applications. President Heidi Anderson of the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, where the meeting was held, noted that the majority of applicants to UMES still opt to include their SAT or ACT scores.  

Charles Wight, the outgoing president of Salisbury University, the only USM school that had a test-optional policy before the pandemic, said that, prior to COVID-19, around 70% of applicants submitted test scores, and during the pandemic, around 20% did.

Like many schools throughout the nation, the USM has been utilizing a test-optional admissions policy since the beginning of the pandemic, when SAT and ACT testing sessions were canceled amid stay-at-home orders and other closures. Under the revised admissions policy, individual institutions within the USM will have the power to select whether to require test scores or not. 


Networking Calendar

Submit an entry for the business calendar