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Seattle University Moves to Test-Optional for Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions

April 7, 2020

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The university joins a growing list of higher education institutions that have adopted test-optional policies.

Standardized testing will be optional at Seattle University for undergraduate applicants beginning with fall 2021.  The reasons behind the decision are based on the need to build a more inclusive admissions process and to update the tools used to reliably predict student outcomes.

“The use of standardized testing as an admissions requirement is based on long-held, but biased, assumptions about their predictive power,” says Provost Shane P. Martin. “There is mounting evidence that standardized exams are not significant predictors of first-year student success. Furthermore, standardized exams have a demonstrable and disproportionately negative impact on populations of students systematically excluded from higher education.”

“Much has been written about the inequitable outcomes of standardized testing on communities of color and low socioeconomic status,” says Martin. “It is in keeping with our mission that we make this recommendation to become test-optional and remove any unearned advantage, real or perceived, to those from privileged backgrounds.”

Seattle U began its review of standardized tests last December before the SAT and ACT test administrations were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Enacting this test-optional approach will further the university’s ability to work with students on the long-term impacts of the pandemic and their educational aspirations.

Additionally, in an effort to assist graduate applicants navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its ramifications, GRE and GMAT testing requirements will now be considered optional for anyone applying to a non-law graduate program in the 2020-21 academic year.

The university joins a growing list of higher education institutions that have adopted test-optional policies —more than 1,060 as of winter 2020 according to data compiled by

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