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DWU and SDSU dropping ACT, SAT requirements due to COVID-19

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 10:09 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -During senior year of high school, a big focus for students is getting a good score on the ACT or SAT to get admitted to their college of choice. But now some colleges are dropping their testing requirements, in part due to the coronavirus.

Because of COVID-19, some high school seniors haven’t had the chance to take the ACT or SAT test yet. Many test dates have been rescheduled or canceled.

“And now it’s kind of backlogged and becoming even more and more difficult to actually take it. So we want to give them the opportunity to be able to still make their college decision when they are ready. As soon as now. So they can be ready to come in the fall,” said Fredel Thomas, Vice President of Admissions and Marketing.

Dakota Wesleyan University joins the list of schools switching to a test-optional admission policy. It means students do not have to take the ACT OR SAT to get admitted to the university.

“Because we want students to have access to higher education and we don’t want a single point in time like the SAT or ACT to be a barrier to those students,” said Thomas.

DWU has been considering the policy change for a while, but the pandemic has sped up the process.

“And made us realize we need to do this sooner rather than later,” said Thomas.

Students can still submit their test scores if they want to. Or instead can opt for the university to look at their high school GPA and completed courses.

“Students are pretty excited about this, just because a lot of students don’t test-take very well. Obviously, with it being a timed test and different content areas and things like that, it’s a stressful situation for some students. They don’t necessarily have the confidence. Some of them just don’t have even the resources to properly prepare for these tests,” said Natasha Lynde, Associate Director of Admissions.

South Dakota’s six public universities already offer this option. That’s Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota State University, and the University of South Dakota.

Current South Dakota Board of Regents' policies allow students admission based on various academic criteria, including:

  • High school grade point average (GPA), or
  • High school class rank, or
  • ACT or SAT test scores, or
  • Smarter Balanced test scores completed in the junior year of high school.

Due to COVID-19, SDSU is also adjusting its Renewable Jackrabbit Guarantee Scholarship Program for high school seniors applying for fall 2021. Students can now qualify based on their GPA or a combination of their GPA and ACT or SAT test score.

“So we are excited to be able to pilot that and provide some added flexibility for students and families as they are working their way through the college search process and have maybe been impacted by the inability to test or prepare for tests in the same way that they normally would,” said Shawn Helmbolt, SDSU Director of Admissions.

Graduating high school seniors are able to apply to SDSU without needing an ACT or SAT score...
Graduating high school seniors are able to apply to SDSU without needing an ACT or SAT score and this year can still qualify for the Jackrabbit Guarantee scholarship program based on their high school GPA.(SDSU)

The scholarships range from $1,000 to $4000 a year. They are based on a student’s GPA ranging from 3.0 to 4.0 and above or on their ACT or SAT score.

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