UT Austin Brings Back SATs for Admissions

University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin | Image by University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin announced this week that it will resume requiring applicants to submit standardized testing scores in fall 2025 after a five-year pause spurred by the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Suggesting that ACT and SAT scores are valuable indicators of success at the university level, UT Austin will once again require them from prospective students, according to a press release. The school had temporarily made reporting these scores optional starting in the spring semester of 2020 due to the lockdowns creating barriers to testing.

“Our goals are to attract the best and brightest students and to make sure every student is successful once they are here,” said Jay Hartzell, UT Austin president. “Standardized scores combined with high school GPA support this goal by improving early identification of students who demonstrated the greatest academic achievement, the most potential, and those who can most benefit from support through our student success programs.”

He noted how data has suggested that applicants who provided these scores performed considerably better their first semester at UT Austin than those who did not. This difference averaged out to nearly an entire GPA point higher among first-year students in 2023.

UT Austin is not the only institution of higher education that has opted to make standardized test scores optional for applicants before announcing plans to roll back the decision. Ivy League universities, including Yale, Brown, and Dartmouth, will also once again be requiring SAT or ACT scores for applicants.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, ACT scores reached a three-decade low last year, raising considerable alarm among administrators over the college readiness of high school test-takers. A whopping 43.3% of the 1.4 million high school seniors who took the ACT that year met none of the benchmarks for success in college-level classes across all subjects, while only 20.8% actually met those benchmarks.

The Texas Education Agency awarded Dallas ISD a score of just 59 out of 100 for College, Career, and Military Readiness in its accountability report for the 2021-2022 school year. That same year, nearly 20% of graduating seniors failed to obtain a diploma within four years, and only 41% of students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams.

Still, several UT Austin students asked by KERA News whether standardized testing is a strong indicator of college success suggested otherwise.

“I wouldn’t say my SAT scores were bad, but they weren’t crazy high,” said Blanca Cuesta, a sophomore studying engineering. “But I think I’m doing just fine in my major here.”

“There is other important stuff that colleges should [consider], especially extracurriculars, like what you did in high school,” said junior Wane Jeng. However, he conceded that standardized test scores are helpful in the holistic college admissions process.

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