What The Test-Free Admissions Movement Means

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How COVID-19 Has Changed College Admissions

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt college life as campuses shut down across the world.

From test-optional admissions to virtual learning, the pandemic has changed the higher education industry forever. But explaining the impact that COVID-19 has had on you isn’t something all college applicants need to mention in their college applications, experts say.

“The idea of every student having to write that ‘I wasn’t engaged in activities. I wasn’t able to do this specific thing I typically do outside of class.’ That’s not necessary. We recognize and understand that that is going to be the case,” Gary Clark, director of undergraduate admission at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells USA Today. “If a student has to really think too hard or really struggle to explain how, then they probably don’t need to write about it.”


One of the major changes during the pandemic was the decision for many colleges to go test-optional in admissions. It’s a shift that many experts say may feel anxious about.

“I recognize for a lot of students, it still feels so new that they’re not sure what to do, whether or not choosing test-optional might change how their application is viewed or might be penalized if they choose to apply without a test,” Robert Springall, executive director of undergraduate admissions at Penn State, tells USA Today.

But DJ Menifee, vice president for enrollment at Susquehanna University and board director for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, says students should “be confident that if you decide to apply without scores that you’re going to be treated equitably in the process and looked at as an individual.”


For many applicants, the pandemic brought on new unique responsibilities—whether it was caring for younger siblings or taking on a new job to help pay the bills. These are things that admissions officers say applicants should highlight in their applications.

“Students, especially this last year, carry some extra responsibilities, and maybe they don’t think to document them because they’re not getting a paycheck, or it’s not something that their school is sponsoring,” Springall tells USA Today.

Sources: USA Today, CBS News, Ivy Wise, CNBC

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