Duke to be test optional for 2021 admissions

Duke will be test-optional for students applying to the first-year undergraduate class during the 2020-21 admissions cycle, Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, wrote in a Wednesday announcement.

Students who cannot or choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores will not have a disadvantage in admissions, Guttentag wrote. The decision comes because students will likely continue to have difficulties registering for and taking the tests, he wrote, and because challenges with standardized testing have a disproportionate impact on “those with the fewest resources.” 

“We recognize that 2020 is already the most disruptive year in living memory for many, and we know that applying to college is a time- and labor-intensive process,” Guttentag wrote. “We hope to simplify the application process this year for those students and families who, like most of us, are facing unusual challenges.” 

Guttentag continued that Duke has always considered test scores as one part of a “multifaceted review of applications.” The University will continue to consider scores for students who choose to submit them and will—as usual—accept self-reported scores when assessing applications. Scores sent from testing agencies will only be required if the students choose to enroll at Duke. 

“We also plan to take the year to assess the future role of standardized tests in our admissions process, particularly with respect to the impact of these tests on our ability to recruit and enroll students from historically underrepresented backgrounds,” he wrote.

This is a developing story and will be updated if new information becomes available. 

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin was editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 116th volume.


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