Emory University has extended its test-optional policy for prospective students applying through the 2024-25 admission cycle, marking the fifth year the undergraduate admissions process has remained test-optional. The Office of Undergraduate Admission announced the policy’s extension on Jan. 25. Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Admission John Latting said Emory is still reviewing data from past application cycles to determine whether or not Emory will continue to be test-optional and hopes to have an answer regarding a long-term policy within the year.

This policy applies to first-year applicants and transfer students applying to both the Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Oxford College in the upcoming application cycle, which opens in August.

Dartmouth College (N.H.) announced earlier this month that it will require ACT or SAT scores for the 2024-25 application cycle, making it the first Ivy League institution to do so. Economists at the college conducted a study which found that a student’s standardized test scores are “highly predictive of academic performance at Dartmouth.”

“Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve — not detract from — our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus,” Dartmouth wrote in a statement announcing the change.

Georgetown University (D.C.), Georgia Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology also currently require applicants to submit test scores.  

However, Latting said that Emory has seen positive outcomes from remaining test-optional since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The University saw a 15% to 20% increase in undergraduate applicants from the Class of 2024 — which matriculated into Emory in 2020 as the last cohort required to submit either an ACT or SAT score — to the Class of 2025, according to Latting. He added that going test-optional attracted more applicants from historically excluded populations, including first-generation students.

“What we saw when we became test-optional was a bigger, more diverse applicant pool,” Latting said.

Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions John Latting said Emory will continue to be test-optional. (Courtesy of Emory University)

Latting explained that resources for standardized tests are not equally accessible to all applicants, which can hinder some students’ ability to perform well on the exams and exclude them from the applicant pool.

“Students are aware of those differences,” Latting said. “In the face of what feels like an … an uneven playing field, so to speak, some students, they just opt out of the process,” Latting said.

Colin Connery, who will be joining Emory as a member of the Class of 2028, applied to the University without submitting test scores. He supported Emory’s decision to remain test-optional for the upcoming application cycle, adding that it provides more opportunities for students.

“For schools to remain test-optional is a good thing for students kind of like me, who I feel are good students but aren’t necessarily great test takers,” Connery said.

Latting added that while many parts of a student’s application such as grades and recommendation letters should be required, test scores are not as necessary.

“It is reasonable to invite students to submit scores but to stop short of signaling that it is of critical importance,” Latting said.

Ashlyn Farnham (27C) said not having to take the SAT or ACT made the overall application process easier and allowed her to focus more on clubs, essays and recommendation letters.

“It took a lot of pressure off of me because I feel like doing the SAT or the ACT can be really stressful, especially when you’re going through all of the college admissions and trying to get all your essays done, ” Farnham said. “Economically it was a lot better because I would have wanted to get a very high test score and I probably would have had to take it a few times, and SATs are lowkey expensive.” 

Farnham added that she thinks the test-optional policy should be a permanent decision, adding that the ACT and SAT are not strong measures of intelligence.

“You can be brilliant and not score that well,” Farnham said. “Remaining test-optional makes it a little fairer for people across the board, not only in regards to test scores but economically speaking as well.”

Connery expressed a similar sentiment, noting that the policy allowed him to focus on other parts of his application instead of his scores.

“I was able to just ignore that, just kind of push that to the side, and be like, ‘Well, let me focus on what my strengths are and what all I do think Emory would be able to appreciate in me,” Connery said.

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Amelia Dasari (she/her) (26C) is from Sharon, Massachusetts, majoring in neuroscience and behavioral biology on the pre-medical track. Outside of the Wheel, Dasari is involved with undergraduate research, Best Buddies, EUMR, RHA, and rez-life. In her free time she enjoys playing the violin, exploring coffee shops, and reading mysteries (especially Agatha Christie).