Tales of a Test-Optional Year

Tales of a Test-Optional Year and What's Next


Tales of a Test-Optional Year and What's Next

Join us for this two-day forum with university case studies!

March 3-4  |  11 a.m. - 4 p.m. ET

Register now!
$150 Registration Rate

Join us on March 3-4 for "Tales of a Test-Optional Year and What's Next," a two-day forum featuring presentations from universities that recently implemented test-optional policies.

Come learn from your peers about the change to test-optional and the implications of this evolving and far-reaching shift in admission policies and practice.

You'll hear firsthand about the experience at New York University, North Dakota State University, Santa Clara University (CA), University of Toledo (OH), University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Western Michigan University. The presentations will cover:

  • The decision to go test-optional, communication challenges, process changes, and lessons learned.
  • The intersection of test-optional admission policies with both financial aid and scholarship practices.
  • The impact of a test-optional policy on the number and type of applications received and expected yield.

The virtual two-day event also includes plenary sessions, wisdom exchanges, extensive Q&A, and more.

This virtual forum is the second in the NACAC Test-Optional Forum series. The series provides up-to-the-minute professional development for higher education decision makers about one of the biggest changes facing the college admission field in decades.

A recording will be available at no cost to all registrants until Apr. 3. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at

On-Demand Package from August 2020 Available for Purchase 


DAY 1 Schedule


Opening Remarks

11 - 11:15 a.m. E.T.


Session A

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. E.T.

Sherie Gilmore-Cleveland, Dean of Admission Saint Mary's College of California

Vern Granger, director of admissions, University of Connecticut

Rakin Hall, vice president for enrollment management, Arcadia University (PA)

Dr. Crystal Newby, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, NACAC

The Intersection of Test-Optional Policies and Equitable Admission Practices 

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced many colleges and universities to reexamine how they evaluate student applicants for admission. The list of postsecondary institutions who adopted temporary test-optional policies grew significantly this past year, with some schools recently announcing extended or permanent changes. What does this mean for historically marginalized student populations? This moderated panel session discusses application trends in light of test-optional policies as well as the effects of these policies on diversity, equity, and access.

Presenters: Sheri Gilmore-Cleveland, dean of admissions, Saint Mary's College of California; Vern Granger, director of undergraduate admissions, University of Connecticut; and Rakin Hall, vice president for enrollment management, Arcadia University (PA).

Moderated by: Dr. Crystal E. Newby, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, NACAC (VA)



Session B
12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. E.T.

Mike Drish, director of first-year admissions, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Xiomara Delobato. UMass Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst: Case Study

Prior to the pandemic, very few public flagship universities were even considering going test optional. That quickly changed as 2020 presented unprecedented circumstances and also a unique catalyst for change related to testing requirements. It was not an easy process, and is very different from a liberal arts college or private university, but we got it done. Learn more about the process to make a change like this happen at a public flagship, who beyond admissions had to be involved, and the challenges of communicating that big of a change to a diverse group of prospective students, their influencers, and other constituencies.

Presenters: Mike Drish, director of first-year admissions, and Xiomara DeLobato, associate director of diversity recruitment and enrollment.




1:15 - 2 p.m. E.T.


Session C
2 - 2:45 p.m. E.T.

Gabriel Lomeli, assistant director of undergraduate admission, University of Toledo 

Julia Trowbridge, associate director of admissions operations, Western Michigan University

University of Toledo and Western Michigan University: Case Study

After years of discussion, Western Michigan University and The University of Toledo implemented a test-optional policy for first-year and transfer applicants in March of the 2020 cycle as a reaction to the COVID-19 crisis. The policy was extended into the 2021 cycle, including for most scholarship consideration, and recently adopted as our standard policies for admission decisions. Through this process, WMU and UToledo were able to increase access to college by expanding the applicant pool, completing more applications, admitting additional students within the applicant pool without sacrificing class GPA average, and legitimately return to holistic review. This was implemented in such a way that allowed WMU and UToledo to maintain efficient processing and review practices and remained in-line with university and NACAC standards.

Presenters: Gabriel Lomeli, assistant director of undergraduate admission, University of Toledo and Julia Trowbridge, associate director of admissions operations, Western Michigan University.






Session D
3 - 3:45 p.m. E.T.

 Becky Konowicz, dean of undergraduate admission, Santa Clara University

AJ Howell-Williams, senior associate director of admission, Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University: Case Study

An honest look at a university's implementation of a test-optional policy and its effects on application review in the face of COVID. Guided by a desire to be fair and equitable, we will offer a review of our 4 month fast-paced adoption and its outcomes as we reflect after reviewing 8,000+ applications in our early round.

Presenters: Becky Konowicz, dean of undergraduate admission and AJ Howell-Williams, senior associate director of admission.



Wisdom Exchange
4 - 5 p.m. E.T.

DAY 2 Schedule


Opening Remarks

10:50 - 11 a.m. E.T.

Session E
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. E.T.




Using Data to Inform and Communicate Test-Optional Admissions

This session will illustrate how IUPUI developed and communicated new policies for test-optional undergraduate admissions. Using the NACAC (2016) outline on predictive validity in admissions practices as a lens, the presenters will share how IUPUI used institutional data to assess the utility of standardized test scores in decisions to admit students to the university, admit students to specific academic  programs, place students in appropriate math courses, and select students for merit based aid opportunities. Staff from the IUPUI Undergraduate Admissions and Institutional Research and Decision Support offices will then discuss their collaborative effort to share results of these analyses to a wide variety of university audiences and assist individual schools in determining alternate admissions criteria. Presenters will also articulate next steps, including the use of high school transcript data to replace test scores in admissions decisions. The session will conclude with best practices for conducting predictive validity research using standardized test scores and communicating results to students, parents, faculty, and staff. 

Presenters: Steven Graunke, EdD, director of institutional research and assessment, Errol Wint, director of undergraduate admission, and Matt Moody, associate director for strategic operations. All presenters are from IUPUI.



Session F
12:15 p.m. - 1 p.m. E.T.

 William Sichel, Senior Director of Admission, NYU

New York University and The Baldwin School of Puerto Rico: Case Study

Inequities in standardized testing opportunities and policies to disproportionately sparse recruiting activities that favor the well-resourced populations and places unique barriers that exacerbate income inequality in historically marginalized communities. In an effort to increase access and Equity, NYU adopted a test-flexible policy over 10 years ago, opening the door to students around the globe, expanding the knowledge base of its admissions office to better serve students and families, and fostering greater academic and cultural diversity.

Presenters: William Sichel, senior director of admissions, New York University and Celeste Surís-Rosselli, director of college counseling, The Baldwin School of Puerto Rico. 



1 - 2 p.m.


Session G
2 - 2:45 p.m. E.T.

Seinquis Leinen, Interim Director of Admission, North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University: Case Study 

Largely inspired by our institution's land grant mission, North Dakota State University Office of Admission values the ability to provide students access to a college education and are continuously striving to provide inclusive and equitable recruitment and admission experiences. Presenters will share how the transition to test-optional admissions in response to the coronavirus pandemic impacted areas such as scholarship, financial aid, course placement, and selective program eligibility.

Presenters: Seinquis Leinen, interim director of admission and Adam Lundquist, associate director of admission.



Session H
3 - 4 p.m. E.T.

Jennifer Jessie, Jenn the Tutor

Test-Optional Reflections: Student Panel 

Test-optional policies have real-world implications. The policies do not exist in a vacuum. The way test-optional policies are communicated sends signals to students who are asking the questions, "does optional really mean optional?" Many students use those signals to decide whether a school is "really test-optional." Students are also influenced by their peers and the counselors when deciding on test-optional. They are also influenced by sources such as You-Tube, Reddit, marketing from independent counselors as well as Test Prep companies. In this panel we will explore the current perceptions around test-optional. This session will feature a high school senior, a transfer student, an IEC professional, and a high school counselor.

Presenters: Jenn Jessie, IEC, Jenn the Tutor and Alicia Oglesby, counselor, Bisohop McNamara High School (MD).

Student Presenters: Stephanie Sylla, senior, CD Hylton High School (VA) and Halla Abdulkarim Ibrahim, senior, Colgan High School (VA).



Closing Remarks
4 - 4:15 p.m. E.T.


Continuing Education

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5242. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. NACAC is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

Individuals interested in gaining credit for Tales of a Test-Optional Year and What's Next must complete the Evaluation for each session to earn credit. Questions about CE? Email us.

NACAC Approved Continuing Education Provider


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