The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa Board of Regents unlikely to abandon test-optional admissions

More universities across the country are returning to requiring test scores in applications.
Grace Smith
12-year-old Mira Gibbons completes a puzzle during a test preparation session with Founder and Director of test preparation organization FinnPrep, Kelly Finn, at the Armstrong Center in downtown Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. Iowa ACT scores have dropped to the lowest level in about a decade.

Despite some prestigious universities shifting in the last two months to require standardized test scores in admissions again, Iowa regent universities are unlikely to follow.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many public and private universities have made ACT and SAT test scores an optional part of college applications to accommodate for time and learning lost while students weren’t physically in school.

The University of Iowa and all other Iowa regent universities adopted this policy in January 2022.

Rachel Boon, regents chief academic officer, said Iowa will likely not follow the example of these comparable state universities for requiring tests for aid or merit scholarship evaluation.

“It’s not necessary for us for those purposes, and from a selectivity standpoint, we have found the TPA and other transcripts level information to be very effective in helping us do our admissions process,” she said.

Adam Snoza, president of Aim High Test Prep in Omaha, Nebraska, said many schools are considering returning to requiring test scores because they accurately measure students’ readiness for the rigor of a college-level education. Otherwise, students who would’ve struggled on the test may struggle in classes with appropriate resources.

“You don’t want to saddle them with debt because they fail out because they just weren’t ready,” he said. “You also have the idea of making sure that the school is aware of what the student needs for placement and remediation.”

ACT CEO Janet Godwin said the ACT, specifically, is a reliable measure of a student’s academic ability, and when paired with other factors like GPA and extracurriculars, creates a strong holistic view of how a student will perform at the university they are applying to.

“Abandoning the use of longstanding, trustworthy, and objective assessments like the ACT introduces greater subjectivity and uncertainty into the college admissions process,” Godwin said. “In order to unlock opportunities, students need clear and objective information about where they stand and what they need to be successful.”

Although standardized tests are good indicators of skill level, according to some experts, Jason Pontius, regents associate chief academic officer, said so far in its review of test-optional policies, the regents haven’t seen a notable difference in the performance of students who did submit score versus the students who didn’t.

Current Iowa City West High School senior Zoe Smith will be attending the University of Iowa in the fall and she was admitted without submitting an ACT score. She said she had a really stressful, difficult experience taking the ACT and didn’t end up getting the score she was hoping for.

“I read it’s very unlikely that you’ll bump your score up by a ton of points if you retake it,” she said. “I think going test-optional gives kids more opportunities to show what they know in other aspects.”

Snoza said he’s worked with students who maybe aren’t as driven to perform well on standardized testing since submitting them became optional.

“The student can self-motivate and learn this stuff through lots of other resources, so I don’t think it’s a money thing,” he said. “I think it’s a demonstration of a student’s grit, and I think that that has been lost.”

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About the Contributors
Grace Olson
Grace Olson, News Reporter
Grace Olson is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. She's a news reporter for The DI, reporting primarily on local government. She is from Denver, Colorado and worked on the pirnt publication from her high school prior to her work in college.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.