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St. Mary’s University announced Thursday that it will not require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their applications, making a pandemic-induced change permanent at the Catholic institution.

Many universities across the country waived standardized testing requirements last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but St. Mary’s appears to be the first university in Texas to implement the “test-free” approach for all future undergraduate applicants, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a group that advocates to end standardized testing requirements.

“We know that a student’s ability to succeed in college is not just about a number,” Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Rosalind Alderman said in a statement. “Reviewing a student’s application holistically certainly takes more time as we consider multiple inputs, but doing so also allows us to identify students who will excel at St. Mary’s.”

SAT and ACT scores also won’t be part of the university’s scholarship award evaluation process.

The test-free policy creates more equity in the admissions process, allowing a diverse population of students to apply, according to a university press release. The university waived standardized testing requirements for the first time last year and welcomed an incoming class that was “as exceptionally qualified as it has been in the past,” Director of Undergraduate Admission Tony Sarda said in a statement.

“Our commitment to educational access and equity has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of the Office of Undergraduate Admission and the university,” Sarda said. “It is thrilling to be at the forefront of a new paradigm of how we make college admission work for students from across the country while keeping the level of academic quality for which St. Mary’s is widely known.”

Research conducted by the university’s admission office, Enrollment Research Associates, and the National Center for Fair & Open Testing found that for 80% to 85% of new students, standardized test scores do not help predict first- and second-year retention rates, according to the press release.

In fall 2021, 75% of students admitted to St. Mary’s did not provide test scores under the current test-optional policy. High school GPAs for that class were comparable to prior years, according to the university.

Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.