Transitioning to Test-Optional Admission


Transitioning to Test-Optional Admission

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

Aug. 20-21  |  10:15 a.m. - 2:45 p.m. ET

On-Demand Package Available for Purchase 

Has your college made the decision to move to test-optional admission this fall?

Many colleges are grappling with how to make a speedy transition to test-optional admission practices. To complicate matters, the transcript evaluation process is now more difficult because so many high schools adopted pass/fail grading in the spring of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The good news? Many colleges have a long tradition of test-optional admission policies and valuable insights to share.

To help you sort through the considerations, implications, and challenges, NACAC is hosting a two-day Transitioning to Test-Optional Admission Forum on August 20-21. During the forum, you will:

  • Hear firsthand from a variety of institutions about their test-optional policies and best practices;

  • Learn about the findings of the NACAC's Task Force on Standardized Admission Testing for International and US Students;

  • Find out what researchers have found through studies on test-optional policies and access; and

  • Receive answers to your questions during the live Q&A.

A recording will be available at no cost to all registrants until Aug. 31. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at


DAY 1 Schedule


Opening Remarks

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. E.T.


Session A

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. E.T.


NACAC Task Force on Standardized Admission Testing for International and US Students 

Learn about the findings of this testing task force, which debated the values and costs of standardized testing in a global landscape. The task force considered if standardized testing perpetuates inequities and whether it should receive stringent review to remain a part of the undergraduate admission process. In this presentation, members of the task force share the key considerations for institutions in determining whether admission tests add enough value to the admission process to balance their costs, both social and monetary.

Presenters: John F. Latting, associate vice provost for enrollment and dean of admission; Anne K.W. Richardson, director of the office of student advising, The American School in London; and Gary A. Clark, Jr., director of undergraduate admission, UCLA.


Session B
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. E.T.

Sarah Lawrence College: Case Study

Sarah Lawrence College was an early and vocal critic of requiring standardized tests in college admissions, even spending some years as “test-negative.” The college has been test-optional for the past seven years and has found ample evidence that this policy not only alleviates anxieties over scores for many applicants, but benefits admissions officers, too, through a reassertion of the importance of context and nuance in committees.

Presenters: Kevin McKenna, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid, and Jennifer Gayles, director of admission and coordinator of multicultural recruitment.



12:30 - 1 p.m. E.T.


Session C
1 - 1:45 p.m. E.T.


Bates College: Case Study

Committed to access and inclusion since its founding, Bates College became test optional over 30 years ago making it a pioneer in the movement..

Presenter: Leigh Weisenburger, dean of admission and financial aid.


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


Susquehanna University: Case Study

Susquehanna University adopted a test optional policy in the 1990s, evolving over time.

Presenter: Phil Betz, director of admission.



DAY 2 Schedule


Opening Remarks

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. E.T.

Session E
10:30 - 11:30 a.m. E.T.



Equitable Post-Testing Admissions

The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the disparities in resources between well-funded (and largely White) schools and underfunded (and largely Black and Latinx) schools. These disparities are reflected not only in access to testing but also in the availability of support to navigate a fractured registration and administration process. While removing the requirement to submit test scores has gained popularity in recent years, there are critical concerns with the actual implementation of test-optional policies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelists will provide an overview of three issues: states requiring students take a college entrance exam to graduate, the speed with which institutions have decided to go test optional, and recent term grades. We will end by providing guidance for both enrollment management practitioners and policymakers to address these three concerns.

Presenters: Akil Bello, senior director of advocacy and advancement, FairTest, and Marie Bigham, founder and executive director, ACCEPT.



Session F
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. E.T.

George Washington University: Case Study

 A test-optional admissions policy opens the door, but the rest of the university helps lead to true changes in student success.

Presenter: Ben Toll, dean of undergraduate admissions


12:30 - 1 p.m.


Session G
1 - 1:45 p.m. E.T.

George Mason University: Case Study


Test Optional Admissions was necessary but not sufficient for George Mason University to become both diverse and inclusive – a 13 year journey and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Presenters: David Burge, vice president for enrollment management, and Melissa Bevacqua, director of undergraduate admissions.


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

Defining Access: What We Learned and What We Recommend

In 2018, we released the results of Defining Access, a national study of test-optional admission that included data on over 900,000 individual applicant records from 28 institutions that had adopted a test-optional policy. We will briefly review the results, focusing on the impact on the applicant funnel experienced by those institutions after moving to test-optional admissions. Following that, for schools that are just now implementing a test-optional policy, we will identify some pitfalls to avoid and provide suggestions for a smooth and effective transition.

Presenter: Steve Syverson, dean of admissions, emeritus Lawrence University.





Expand / Collapse All