Press Release

Vassar Makes Test-Optional Policy Permanent for Applicants

Vassar College will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT test scores when they apply for admission, Sonya K. Smith, Vice President and Dean of Admission and Student Financial Services, announced today. The decision, made in consultation with the College’s Committee on Admission and Financial Aid (CAFA), makes permanent a pilot policy waiving the test score requirement that has been in effect since the 2020–2021 application cycle.

In announcing the pilot policy in 2020, Smith stressed that Vassar’s admission process is already holistic in its approach, which allows for a fuller picture of a student to emerge, well beyond what can be encapsulated in a test score. Numerous studies have shown that a student’s grade-point average in high school is a more reliable predictor of success in college than test scores, and large racial gaps in SAT and ACT scores persist. “Many studies have shown the inequities built into standardized testing, from correlations between higher socio-economic status and higher scores to built-in biases against students of color to issues with high stakes testing and anxiety as well as stereotype threat,” Smith said. “Requiring testing becomes an access and equity issue, and mental health and wellness also come into play.”

President Elizabeth H. Bradley said the College’s decision was driven by research. “Studies have shown that test scores do not always accurately measure the qualities we are looking for in students,” Bradley said. “Standardized testing simply shows who is a good test taker.”

Smith said CAFA began researching a move to test optional in the fall of 2019. The Office of Institutional Research found that for Vassar students, standardized testing was not a significant predictor of four-year graduation rates, but high school GPAs were significant predictors. This was especially true for Pell-eligible students and other historically underrepresented students. Similarly, a student’s high school GPA was a better predictor of college GPA than standardized testing.

Smith said she was grateful to the members of CAFA for their thoughtful approach to the issue and their deep sense of care for Vassar’s applicants and students. “Our students are more than a test score,” she said. “Our community values thinkers and creativity. Our students enjoy grappling with ideas, engaging with one another, and coming up with innovative solutions. Standardized tests can’t measure that. By going test optional, it sends a clear message to prospective applicants that we believe that they are smart, capable, and worthy regardless of whether they are a talented test taker.” 

About Vassar College

Vassar College, based in Poughkeepsie, New York, is a coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college where perspectives cross, ideas intersect, and passion burns bright. Originally founded to provide women an education equal to that once available only to men, Vassar was the first all-women’s college in the nation to become coeducational when it opened its doors to men in 1969. Vassar fosters an intellectual openness and independence in students, who meet each other as equals, and are encouraged to absorb diverse thought and impassioned dialogue that give them the insight and confidence they will need in a complex world where they will make important contributions. Consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, Vassar is renowned for pioneering achievements in education, for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the beauty of its campus.

Contact: Larry Hertz,, 845-437-7938, 845-518-3098 (Vassar College)


April 13, 2023