UVM to Go Test-Optional for Students Applying in 2020-21

In light of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Vermont will not require standardized test score submissions for undergraduate students applying in 2020-21. This decision reflects uncertainty surrounding test-taking opportunities and aligns with changes being made in higher education throughout the United States.

“Before deciding on this action, we consulted closely with our Deans, Faculty Senate and other important stakeholders,” said University President, Suresh Garimella. “They offered unwavering support of this opportunity to help optimize equity among applicants, especially given the far-reaching, and highly variable, impact of this pandemic.”

Garimella has been a staunch advocate of access and affordability during his tenure at UVM. In November, he announced a landmark decision, backed by the Board of Trustees, to freeze undergraduate tuition for the 2020–2021 academic year.

“Providing a test-optional application supports first-generation and other underrepresented student populations who may not have access to ideal testing conditions during the pandemic,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Patty Prelock, who attended college as a first-generation student. “It is incumbent upon us to always be mindful of fairness and balance in our admissions process. As a land-grant institution, access is a part of our ethos.”

The Office of Admissions will maintain its holistic review process, which includes a personalized assessment of each application. Students who are able—and wish—to submit standardized test scores with their applications will be able to do so. Those who choose not to submit standardized test scores will not be penalized during the admissions review.

“Prospective students and families have been forced to navigate myriad obstacles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Executive Director of Admissions Ryan Hargraves. “This decision will help to eliminate some of those barriers. It will also help us to evaluate the impact of a test-optional approach.”

This pilot test-optional policy will be universally applicable to first year and transfer undergraduate students from around the world.

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