WILLIAMSBURG — William & Mary announced Thursday it would continue its standardized test-optional undergraduate admission process indefinitely.
The decision followed what William & Mary called “a highly effective three-year pilot program” and was based on a review of data, consideration of evolving trends in college admission and consultation with a faculty advisory committee.
The test-optional approach allows prospective students to decide whether they wish to include SAT or ACT test results as part of their application. William & Mary noted its “holistic” admission review process involves many components, including several optional elements.
Those elements include standardized test scores, teacher recommendations and interviews.
“We want to empower students with more flexibility to demonstrate their talent when applying,” said Associate Vice President for Enrollment & Dean of Admission Tim Wolfe. “Our admission process is comprehensive and multi-faceted. As we found through the pilot, we continue to enroll highly qualified students — with or without a standardized test score — capable of succeeding academically and in contributing to the William & Mary community.
“We’ve also seen — both internally and nationally — that this flexibility increases our ability to recruit talented students who may not otherwise envision themselves at the university, including those who may be the first in their family to attend college.”
Going test-optional had been under consideration for some time, but the university introduced the three-year pilot program during the pandemic, when many prospective students were having difficulty scheduling tests. The first test-optional cohort started in the fall of 2021, with a total of 39% of the enrolling class applying without submitting standardized test scores, according to the university.
Since that time, the university said the Office of Institutional Research was tracking the retention and academic success of the class, finding similar results. The Admission Policy Advisory Committee met in early February and supported the recommendation for an indefinite extension of the policy.
“William & Mary enrolls the brightest, most creative and most inquisitive students, who in turn advance the university’s culture and experience,” Provost Peggy Agouris said. “Adopting test-optional admissions policy past the pilot period helps ensure that applicants are able to highlight their strongest possible contributions to William & Mary, knowing that our remarkable faculty will encourage them to reach their fullest potential. I’m delighted to support the extension.”
The university said it will periodically review the decision based on related data.
“Accelerated by the difficulty of exam-taking during COVID, the national trend now is very much towards test-optional,” said Admission Policy Advisory Committee chair Michael R. Halleran, professor of classical studies and former W&M provost. “It is important to emphasize the ‘optional’ element in that adjectival phrase: Students will still have the option of submitting test scores, if they wish to do so.
“The test-optional approach will make us more attractive to a wider range of students, and in reducing the advantages some students have in taking test-prep courses, make the process more equitable.”
The university stressed it is not “test-blind” Any submitted scores will be considered as part of the holistic review.
The university’s latest entering class, which started in the fall, saw 34% of enrolling students applying without test scores, it said.
“Whether or not they applied with standardized test scores, we are confident students admitted to William & Mary are prepared to succeed in the classroom and make an impact on our campus and beyond,” Wolfe concluded.