Oberlin College Moves to Test-Optional Model for 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle

April 17, 2020

Communications Staff

Stone building facade.
The Cox Administration Building.
Photo credit: Gregory Pendolino

In light of the unprecedented effects the current pandemic is having on high school students around the world, Oberlin College is moving to a test-optional model for the next three years starting with the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, and continuing as a pilot program through the 2022-2023 application year. SAT and ACT score submissions will still be accepted, but will no longer be required for first-year and transfer applicants.

The effects of COVID-19 on high school students around the world have been significant. Constant disheartening news, family disruptions, and health concerns are now a part of everyday life. Many have seen their academic schedules altered as schools have moved to virtual settings, grading scales have changed, and programs such as Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate have been affected.

During these uncertain times, standardized testing presents yet another challenge. With many testing dates having already been canceled and with many schools closed for the remainder of the year, the testing requirement now presents an access issue for our applicants.

“We are making this change to provide some comfort during the application process to students who are already living through a seismic shift in their path toward college,” says Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Manuel Carballo. “It also continues a pattern of reducing barriers and increasing access that Oberlin College has undertaken the last several years.”

This has included the elimination of the application fee for applicants to the College of Arts and Sciences, allowing students to self-report their standardized test results, eliminating the Oberlin specific essay, and providing financial aid estimates through MyinTuition.org.

This policy will underscore that admissions decisions do not overly emphasize testing and also will allow applicants to highlight their many academic and personal strengths. “A test-optional policy fits well with Oberlin College’s holistic review that weighs a student’s four-year academic journey, including grades, strength of schedule, and teacher recommendations, more heavily than the results of standardized tests,” says Carballo.

Students will still have the option of submitting test scores, and these will continue to be considered in the review of applications. Applicants for whom English is not their native language will still be required to submit results of an English-language proficiency exam. 

About Oberlin College and Conservatory

Ranked among the nation’s top liberal arts schools, Oberlin College and Conservatory is known for its exemplary academic and musical pedagogy and its commitment to social justice, sustainability, and creative entrepreneurship. The college, founded in 1833, holds a distinguished place among American colleges and universities as the first to grant bachelor's degrees to women in a coeducational environment and was a leader in the education of African Americans. The Conservatory of Music, a recipient of the National Medal of Arts, was founded in 1865, making it the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. Oberlin Conservatory alumni enjoy illustrious careers in all aspects of the music world, achieving prominence as performers, conductors, composers, music educators, scholars, and arts administrators.


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