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During the pandemic, many universities loosened entrance requirements. Due to limitations in testing opportunities and pandemic-induced stress, many found it best to suspend or eliminate the pressure of entrance exams. Some Texas public universities were among those who made college admission tests optional. They have committed to accepting students who do not submit SAT or ACT standardized test scores. Could test-optional policies be here to stay? See highlights below:

  • Majority of Texas public universities are keeping the SAT and ACT optional until the spring of 2023 or later.
  • Texas state law grants automatic admission to Texas students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school classes, giving off a feeling of being test-optional.
  • COVID-19 pandemic pushed many more schools to become test-optional for all applicants, creating an opportunity when it was the right thing to do.

Who remains test optional?

  • Texas A&M – extended through spring 2023.
  • Stephen F. Austin State University in East Texas – fall of next year.
  • University of Texas at Dallas – fall of next year.
  • Texas Tech University – until 2025. 
  • University of Texas at Austin – fall 2023.
  • Baylor University – through fall 2023, reevaluation afterward.
  • Rice University – through fall 2023, reevaluation afterward.
  • Sam Houston State University – extended indefinitely.
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – extended indefinitely.
  • Tarleton State University – extended indefinitely.

Who has not extended test optional policies?

  • niversity of Houston – decision pending
  • Texas State University in San Marcos – decision pending
  • University of Texas at Tyler – decision pending.
  • Texas Southern University in Houston – required for 2.5 GPA or below only.
  • Prairie View A&M University – reinstated for fall 2021 applicants.

Why test-optional?

  • Some school leaders have argued that the tests are not predictive of student performance in college.
  • Additional barrier to enrollment for low-income students.
  • Rely on a holistic approach to applications.

The impact

  • Data shows that Texas A&M did not see retention rates or initial GPAs dip from fall to spring during either of the last two years.
  • Many Texas universities said they saw an increase in applications once standardized test scores became optional for admission.
  • Many universities said they saw minimal changes in the diversity of students who enrolled, while others reported some remarkable increases in the number of Black students, low income, and lower ranked students.
  • Stark reduction in the number of merit scholarships awarded to students who did not submit test scores.


  • National experts say if schools want to make it clear they are truly test-optional, then they need to remain agnostic toward the exams.
  • Once they start making recommendations, it’s going to be interpreted as a preferred criteria.
  • While a majority of Texas universities have committed to continuing test-optional policies for the near future, some universities across the country have announced they’re beginning to require the scores again.


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