Westfield State University adopts test-optional admissions policy

Westfield State University has joined a Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) Pilot Program that allows students to opt-out of sharing their standardized test scores as part of the admissions process. The new admissions policy goes into effect for fall 2020 and spring 2021 admissions and comes after the cancellation of many standardized testing dates due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The policy applies to all academic majors, including nursing. Students who want test scores to be considered in admission and scholarship decisions will still have that option. 

Most college-bound high school students in the United States take the SAT or ACT exam in the spring of their junior year and/or fall of their senior year to prepare for college admission. Westfield State decided to shift to “test-optional” admissions because studies have demonstrated that weighted high school grade point average (GPA) is a stronger predictor of academic success than standardized tests.

“Westfield State students are much more than just a test score,” said Kelly Hart, Ph.D., Westfield State University’s executive director of admission. “Grades in individual courses throughout high school and the strength of a student’s curriculum, in the context of what’s available to them at their school, are better predictors of college success than a one-day test.”

Another factor to consider was COVID-19’s impact on exam schedules. The pandemic forced the cancellation of spring 2020 SAT and ACT test dates; students missed the opportunity to take one of the tests at a time in their education when they are best prepared for them. To ensure equitable access to students who were most affected by the test date cancellations, Westfield State chose to participate in the Test-Optional Pilot program.

“We believe Westfield State’s new test-optional policy for this fall and beyond is in the best interest of students who endured so many disruptions during their junior and senior years of high school,” said Daniel Forster, Westfield State’s vice president for enrollment management. “Through this action, we’re eliminating what could be a roadblock for some students who want to attend Westfield State University.”

Hart explained that by eliminating test score requirements, “Westfield State joins other higher education institutions that support closing the ‘entrance’ achievement gap for those applicants typically at a greater disadvantage, providing access to higher education for all.”

Westfield State’s evaluation of admission applications will continue to consider factors such as grades, GPA, and strength of curriculum; application essay(s); co-curricular and extracurricular activities; and letter(s) of recommendation will also be considered as part of the process. The absence of a test score will not impact a student’s application at the time of their admission decision. If an applicant feels a standardized test score is indicative of their academic achievement, they are welcome to submit their test score(s) during the application process.

Westfield State joins a growing number of public universities participating in the DHE Test Optional Pilot Program, which was launched in 2016.

Read more about Westfield State’s standardized test-optional admissions policy.

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