EWU waives SAT and ACT admissions requirement


Photo by Tanner Streicher

Mary Cullinan at the Passing Through the Pillars event on Sept. 23

By Karlee Van De Venter, Reporter


On May 18, EWU announced its switch to testing-optional admissions. This means incoming students will not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores with their application. Previously, it was required of all students in order to be considered. Then, President Mary Cullinan announced a temporary waive of this requirement for students impacted by COVID-19. Now, it is permanently optional for any incoming student. 

While this decision is becoming more common in universities nationwide, like Wesleyan University, George Washington University and University of Chicago, Washington State hasn’t caught up just yet. EWU and Evergreen State College are the only public universities in Washington to make the switch. 

According to multiple faculty members, this switch is part of an ongoing mission to provide equity for students. Associate vice president for enrollment Jens Larson said that standardized tests can give advantages to students with more privilege. 

According to a study by Laura-Lee Kearns in 2011, the policy of standardized testing doesn’t necessarily connect with real student experiences.

“In contrast to literacy policy’s aims to help promote the ‘well-being’ of all learners and ‘equity’ within the educational system, youth attest to feeling ‘shame’ and show further marginalization due to this testing mechanism,” Kearns said in the study’s abstract. 

Research from the past several years shows that standardized testing can sometimes play negative roles in racial inequalities and reinforce several other kinds of discrimination. While this is not always the case, standardized tests often provide privileged communities with more advantages. 

“It is hoped that EWU’s decision will reduce stress and complexity for students, families, and high schools,” -Dave Meany, Director of Communications and Media Relations

While there is still debate about what to do with current standardized testing practices, EWU took the problem into their own hands. By allowing test scores to be optional, those who took the SAT or ACT may still see benefits from that without taking from those who didn’t. 

University merit-based scholarships will not take SAT and ACT scores into account as an effort to provide this equity. Other scholarships may factor in scores but will disclose that in the application information. 

EWU is a university that has the capability to serve students regardless of socioeconomic status, and this change proves that. Especially since COVID-19 has disrupted testing plans for many high school upperclassmen, changing this requirement is meant to be beneficial. 

“It is hoped that EWU’s decision will reduce stress and complexity for students, families, and high schools,” said Dave Meany, director of communications and media relations on the EWU website.