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July 13, 2020

North Park University Goes Test Optional in Response to Pandemic

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North Park University has long reviewed its applicants on a holistic basis—grade point average, rigor of high school curriculum, perseverance, extra-curricular activities, and standardized test scores are all considered towards meeting admission criteria.

With the onset of COVID-19 shelter-in-place across the country, students who didn’t already take the SAT and ACT in the Fall 2019 or early Winter 2020, were not able to sit for the exam in Spring 2020. Re-instated test dates for Summer and Fall 2020 still have the potential to be canceled.

The decision for North Park to go test-optional was approved by North Park University President Mary K. Surridge to accommodate all students. The decision is a natural one. North Park is an institution that has always valued the diverse strengths of its student body that come in many forms—academics, athletics, intercultural background, drive to succeed, and contributions to society.

The application process for 2020-2021 will emphasize the whole student, as it always has, just without an SAT/ACT test score. The University not only rewards what students accomplish in the classroom and their test scores but also what they bring outside of the classroom and to their communities.

The decision to go test-optional for 2020-2021 admissions is about ensuring equitable access to higher education. “We want all of our students to have the ability to apply, be admitted, and receive financial aid without a test date dictating this timeline,” said Anthony ScolaNorth Park’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

By removing the SAT/ACT requirement, North Park is honoring what can be an obstacle in meeting admission criteria. “Many students have had their SAT/ACT canceled and we want our applicants to know we recognize this challenge,” said Scola.

Dropping the SAT/ACT removes a barrier to entry, an ongoing higher education debate. Going test-optional long-term is yet to be determined. What North Park admission’s committee does recognize is the 2020-2021 class experienced significant change in their learning.

“The 2020-2021 class offers unique qualities in its own way by having to pivot its learning platform during an unprecedented time,” said Scola.

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