Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Heather Schugar, PhD

Committee Member

Katie Solic, PhD

Committee Member

John Craig, EdD


“Test optional”, “test flexible,” and “no tests required” are buzzwords surrounding the college admissions’ process today. Getting into a college or university may require a student to submit several sets of grades and scores from either the SAT or ACT, write essays, prepare for interviews and/or complete other admission requirements. As of 2018, there are at least 1,000 accredited, bachelor-degree-granting colleges and universities that altered their admissions policy to either eliminate consideration of standardized testing scores or have moved to test optional or test-flexible admissions policies (Safier, 2017).

This qualitative mixed methods study investigated why higher education institutions are implementing test-optional policies as part of their admissions process. The answer to this question required inquiry into the decision-making processes at test-optional higher education institutions. Admissions officers answered survey questions regarding demographics, admissions materials, the rationale for implementing a test-optional admissions policy, and perceived benefits and drawbacks of their test-optional policy. Additional in-person interviews were also conducted with four admissions officers who consented through the survey. Utilizing qualitative survey and interview feedback, admissions officers identified diversity, access, and a desire to realign the admissions process with the institution’s mission and values as some of the main drivers for the implementation of a test-optional admissions policy. This study provides additional insight to the existing literature encompassing the reasons why higher education institutions are choosing to adopt a test-optional admissions policy and how this decision has impacted faculty and students.