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University of Tennessee returns to pre-pandemic policy, requiring SAT or ACT scores for incoming students

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UT and other colleges and universities made standardized tests optional for applicants.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — During the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Tennessee stopped requiring incoming students to share their SAT or ACT scores on applications, waiving the requirement along with other schools across the U.S.

Testing sites were closing to help cut the spread of COVID-19, which it testing difficult for many school systems. But for the 2023-2024 school term, UT will revert to its pre-pandemic policy and start requiring incoming students to submit test scores.

Some students at the college disagreed with the decision, saying that standardized tests may not fully reflect what a person is capable of achieving.

“I don't think standardized testing is essential for college students,” said Kayla Mcghee, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee. 

To some, taking standardized tests to get into college may not be necessary. However, leaders at UT said they thought the tests reflected enough about a person to be required for all applicants. Other aspects of the application, such as grade transcripts and personal essays, are also still required.

“But if you don't want to, you shouldn't have to,” said Athena Shed, a freshman at UT.

Starting in 2020 until now,  the University of Tennessee made submitting SAT or ACT scores optional for students in the graduating class of 2025. Athena Shed was in that group. Although it was not required when she enrolled at UT, she took the test anyway. 

“I was nervous when I took it. The first time I took it, I did okay,” she said. 

After months of discussion by campus leaders about handling standardized test scores after the pandemic, they decided the original policy was best. 

Randy Boyd, the president of the UT System, released a statement saying that "this doesn't affect people that have just applied for this coming fall '22 or the spring of 2023."