Date July 10, 2018
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Brown eliminates SAT essay, ACT writing test requirement for applicants

In allowing students to take advantage of school-day testing, the shift is part of a continued push to make Brown’s application process more fully accessible to students from low-income families.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Beginning with next year’s incoming undergraduate class, Brown University will no longer require prospective students to submit SAT essay or ACT writing scores when applying for admission to the University.

Eliminating the requirement adds to a growing array of efforts at Brown to reduce barriers that students from low-income families may encounter when applying, said Logan Powell, the University’s dean of admission.

Many students from low-income families take advantage of free SAT testing offered during the school day by the College Board, which administers the test. This enables those who might encounter difficulties taking standardized tests on a Saturday — when the SAT and ACT are traditionally offered — to avoid challenges such as finding transportation, taking time off from work or applying for a fee waiver, Powell noted.

And while free school-day SATs are now offered at nearly 8,000 schools nationwide, they do not all include the essay portion of the SAT. This may discourage talented students from applying to schools that require it, explained Powell, who in 2013 participated in a committee convened by the College Board that recommended the institution of free school-day testing.

“Given the significant growth in free school-day testing, it’s important to enable students from low-income families to take advantage of the tests already offered by their school districts and not place an undue burden on them to go in separately outside of normal school hours,” Powell said. “Our goal is that for any talented student interested in Brown, the application process is not a deterrent — and we don’t want this test to be a barrier to their application.”

Powell said that undergraduate applicants can still submit their SAT essay or ACT writing scores should they choose. And the University also recommends that applicants submit a graded paper from a humanities or social sciences course as part of their application.

The shift in testing requirements is one of a wide range of efforts at Brown to ensure that financial considerations do not prevent talented students from applying to or enrolling at the University.

In addition to major financial aid initiatives — including The Brown Promise, which replaces all loans in University aid packages with scholarship dollars beginning this fall — the Office of College Admission waives application fees automatically for students from low-income families. Applicants can also self-report standardized test scores, rather than paying to submit official scores. (Students who are admitted to Brown must submit official test scores prior to enrollment.)