Brown suspends standardized test requirement for 2020-21 undergraduate admissions cycle

The University has made standardized test scores optional for applicants in the upcoming undergraduate admissions cycle to account for the unprecedented obstacles to testing arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Given the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on prospective college students and their families across the globe, Brown University has temporarily suspended its standardized test requirement for prospective undergraduates. The submission of SAT or ACT scores will be optional for first-year applicants who apply for admission during the 2020-21 year.

Dean of Admission Logan Powell said that with the ability to register for in-person testing significantly limited, and with no at-home SAT to be offered in Fall 2020, the temporary policy shift will assist prospective students who are contending with the implications of the pandemic during their final years of high school.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary responses,” Powell said. “Our primary concern is always the safety and well-being of our applicants and students, and we hope that adjusting our policies brings clarity and peace of mind to prospective applicants."

Powell said that the Office of College Admission will continue to review SAT or ACT scores submitted by applicants who are able to take the tests, but that those unable to submit scores will face no disadvantage in the admission process. While tests have traditionally been one requirement for undergraduate admission, Brown considers each application holistically and individually, making admissions decisions on a case-by-case basis to build a class that is both academically talented and reflective of the diverse range of perspectives and experiences essential for a world-class learning and research community.

“Our assessment of applicants has always considered the whole person, in the context of their educational environment,” Powell said. “While standardized testing is informative, it has never been determinative."

Brown’s test-optional policy will apply only to the 2020-21 undergraduate admissions cycle. For applicants who seek to participate in varsity sports, Ivy League testing requirements will remain in effect. The University’s testing requirements for transfer applicants are also not affected by this policy change.

The full policy statement from Brown’s Office of College Admission is included below.

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Test optional policy update

As COVID-19 continues to impact students and families around the world, it has become clear that adjustments needed to be made to our policy regarding standardized testing this year. With the recent announcement that there will not be an at-home SAT offered this fall, and the ability to register for in-person testing significantly limited, we know that students are facing particularly great challenges in regions that have already been disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. While we cannot change the realities of these unprecedented circumstances, we can change our admission policy to address the challenges with which we are confronted. For first-year applicants in the 2020-21 admission cycle, Brown is now test optional. This change is for the 2020-21 academic year only.

Students who are unable to submit SAT or ACT scores this year due to COVID-19 will not be disadvantaged in our admission process. If this describes your situation, please know that your application will receive full consideration by our admission committee. We will continue to review test scores that are submitted, and will also bear in mind that those who do submit scores may not have been able to take the SAT or ACT more than once. There will be an opportunity within the Common Application to share with us how you may have been affected by the events of this year, including telling us how your testing plans were disrupted.

It is important to note that, while standardized testing has long been a component of our holistic admission process, it has always been one among many components that we consider. Testing can be informative, but is only one part of a much larger and more important story about an individual applicant. The SAT or ACT, when submitted, will continue to be considered in the context of all the other information we have about a candidate, and is one of multiple ways in which students may show preparedness for the rigors of Brown. For students who are not able to submit scores this year, we will look to other components of the application, from course grades and curricular rigor to insight from counselors and teachers, to assess academic preparation.

This year has been one of upheaval and uncertainty, and we hope that adopting a test optional policy for the 2020-21 admission cycle will better enable students to prioritize their health and well-being, and that of their families, as the summer and fall continue to unfold. While the applications that students submit this year will undoubtedly look different than in years past, we remain committed to a thoughtful and thorough holistic review process.

NOTE: Testing requirements for transfer applicants in the 2020-21 admission cycle remain consistent as they are detailed here, and all students applying in the 2021-22 admission cycle or later should plan to submit an SAT or ACT score as part of the application process. Brown will continue to adhere to Ivy League policies regarding testing requirements for applicants who plan to participate in varsity athletics.