Hamline waives standardized test requirements for admissions

Cancelled SAT and ACT tests due to coronavirus pushes Hamline to drop test scores as an admission requirement for prospective students.

Hamline+University%27s+admissions+house

Courtesy of Hamline University

Hamline's admissions process is now test-optional, meaning prospective students will no longer be required to include ACT or SAT scores in their admissions application.

Max Kingsbeck, Reporter

Hamline will no longer require ACT or SAT test scores when admitting new students, a permanent change to Hamline’s admissions process.

This decision comes after many other high profile universities around the country also opted to no longer require the tests as part of their admissions decisions. Even before the pandemic, over 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities had already dropped the use of standardized test scores.

Though the coronavirus pandemic was the immediate catalyst for Hamline’s decision, the policy change has actually been in the works for much longer. 

“We had already been planning for and activating conversations around campus about becoming test optional for fall 2021,” said Mai Nhia Xiong-Chan, vice president of Enrollment Management. “The cancelation of the SAT and ACT tests nationally due to COVID-19 pushed up our timeline and did add a sense of urgency.” 

Hamline has also moved the enrollment decision deadline from May 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Xiong-Chan emphasized the policy change was informed by the unnecessary burden of stress testing puts on students and the inherent inequalities of the standardized testing system.

“If one believes the research that the test reinforces inequities such as classicism, racism, gender etc., then by not requiring the test Hamline is taking a step towards creating a more just opportunity from all types of students, not just one type—the high test taker—to receive life-changing higher education,” Xiong-Chan said.

Current Hamline students have voiced their perspectives on standardized tests, with many agreeing with the new policy. First-year Erin Connelly welcomed the decision, citing reasons similar to those outlined by Xiong-Chan.

“I took the ACT twice and usually I am a really good test taker, but the pressure that is put on by taking this timed test and how strict it is really threw me off,” Connelly said. “I definitely was very stressed having to take this test early in the morning, and my nerves got the best of me both times I took it. ”

Connelly also expressed her doubt that standardized tests can truly represent a student’s potential, a sentiment that was echoed by first-year Laniesha Bisek.

“While I see how the test and scores can be helpful to demonstrate a student’s academic performance, there are a lot of ways that it is not,” Bisek said. “There can be a lot of situational circumstances that play a role in a student’s test score and some students are not naturally good test takers so in that case, for the ACT or SAT to be a representation of a student’s intelligence, it is inaccurate.”

Not all students agree with Hamline’s decision.

“I think they have the right intentions by getting rid of the requirement, but people in my class and above worked hard to get into the schools we were striving for and stressed about the test for so long,” first-year Jazmin Clausen-Thomas said. “It’s not fair to us who worried about it for so long.”

Though the tests will no longer be required, prospective students will still have the option to submit their scores. Xiong-Chan describes this as a part of Hamline’s more holistic approach to evaluating applicants that it will continue for the foreseeable future.

“If the score is submitted it will no longer carry the same weight that it did before in admission decisions,” Xiong-Chan said. “Because of this, greater weight will be paid to the student’s cumulative grade point average, the successful completion of rigorous coursework, counselor recommendations and curricular and extra curricular activities among others.”