October 21, 2021

SUNY waives SAT/ACT requirements

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Zachary Wilson, left, and Carol Costell Corbin, both staff in SUNY Cortland’s Advisement and Transition department, walk across SUNY Cortland’s campus Friday. The school is dropping its SAT or ACT scores requirement for students applying to start in the spring of 2021.

Since schools have been closed and state and national standardized tests have been canceled, SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum thought that the SUNY Board of Trustees decision to waive a requirement to submit SAT or ACT scores with applications is fair.

“We really don’t have any choice because of the difficulties high school students are confronting,” he said.

Students applying to start at SUNY Cortland — or any other SUNY school — in the spring or fall of 2021 will not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores, the board of trustees decided recently.

Instead, students will be reviewed based upon their grades in high school classes and any Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or College Level Examination Program courses taken. Letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities will also be considered.

This move follows decisions made by other SUNY colleges, colleges around the state and around the country to drop the exam requirements in the wake of the pandemic.

“A test score alone has never defined our applicants,” said Mark Yacavone, the assistant vice president for enrollment management, in the release. “But we realize that many outstanding students may not have taken an exam before the pandemic forced cancellations in the spring and summer. We did not want to add another layer of difficulty during the college application process.”

The option to apply without submitting SAT or ACT scores will be available for students entering up to the spring of 2022. The school will assess the effectiveness of test-optional policies on student success and retention to determine measures beyond the 2020-21 academic year.

“To me, it doesn’t bother me if the school uses it or not,” said Cortland High School Principal Joseph Mack, adding that application essays are better than test scores to characterize students.

“I think sometimes what students write gives you a bigger window into what they’re like,” he said.

Despite the change, Mack said he wasn’t sure if it would help entice more students from the high school to go to the college.

About two or three students from each graduating class go to the school each year, he said. “It’s really an individual choice of where they go.”