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On June 14, 2018, the University of Chicago announced the introduction of the UChicago Empower Initiative, which includes a new “test-optional” policy by which prospective students are no longer required to submit SAT or ACT scores. The University still encourages students to take such exams.
The University’s thinking was explained as follows:
The SAT, ACT, and other standard measures can continue to be an important part of the University of Chicago’s holistic admission process for students electing to send scores, and are a required part of the application process at many other highly selective schools. These tests can provide valuable information about a student which we and other colleges will consider alongside the other elements in a student’s application. We encourage students to take standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, and to share your scores with us if you think that they are reflective of your ability and potential. Given that many of our peers do require testing, we anticipate that the vast majority of students will continue to take tests and may still submit their test scores to UChicago.
Some applicants may feel that an SAT or ACT score does not fully reflect their academic preparedness or potential. If this is the case for you and you are a domestic applicant, you may select UChicago’s test-optional method of application and not supply SAT or ACT scores with your application. We welcome any student regardless of testing plan to submit additional material (detailed in the Supplements section) that they feel best highlights their skills, talents, and potential contributions to UChicago.
To date, the University of Chicago is the first nationally-prominent research university to offer applicants an opportunity to avoid submitting SAT or ACT scores. The move is aimed at allowing the University of Chicago to encourage more underrepresented students to apply for admission.
“Today, many under-resourced and underrepresented students, families, and school advisers perceive top-ranked colleges as inaccessible without the means to help students stand out in the application process,” James G. Nondorf, Dean of Admissions and Vice President of Enrollment and Student Advancement at the University of Chicago explained. “The UChicago Empower Initiative levels the playing field, allowing first-generation and low-income students to use technology and other resources to present themselves as well as any other college applicant.”