Maryland university goes test-optional on admissions for good

A five-year experiment in “test-optional” admissions at Salisbury University in Maryland yielded strong enough results that the school has been granted permission to make the option permanent.

Salisbury, a public campus on the Eastern Shore, introduced a test-optional admissions program for the 2007 entering class. Students with a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher no longer had to submit standardized test scores.

Several hundred colleges nationwide have introduced test-optional admissions, part of a gradual shift in admissions criteria to favor grades over test scores.

At Salisbury, students in the fall 2007 freshman class who entered under the test-optional program graduated at a slightly higher rate than students who submitted test scores, 54 percent versus 49 percent.

University research found comparable retention rates among students in the test-optional group. The 2007 test-optional group yielded a slightly higher cumulative GPA, and course completion rates were significantly higher among test-optional students.

The findings don’t necessarily prove the inherent superiority of test-optional admissions. The university limited its program to students who earn A’s and B’s. But it provides further evidence that students who earn good grades in high school are likely to do the same in college.

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