What optional SAT, ACT scores did for Miami: Its most accomplished freshman class ever

Miami University officials announced Thursday it is extending its SAT and ACT exam score optional policy for admissions into the 2022 and part of the 2023 school year due to the impact of coronavirus nationwide and internationally on high schools. (File Photo\Journal-News)
Miami University officials announced Thursday it is extending its SAT and ACT exam score optional policy for admissions into the 2022 and part of the 2023 school year due to the impact of coronavirus nationwide and internationally on high schools. (File Photo\Journal-News)

Miami University is extending its new policy of making SAT and ACT exams optional for new student admission due to the coronavirus pandemic, school officials announced today.

The extension will impact first-year applicants seeking admission starting fall of 2022 and spring 2023.

Miami officials said their admissions approach in recent years had already incorporated a more “holistic approach” that decreased the weight of SAT and ACT test scores prior to the onset of the coronavirus in March 2020.

“Not only has it resulted in a steady stream of high caliber applicants, but it has opened up a tremendous opportunity for access and equity,” said Bethany Perkins, Miami University director of admission.

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Officials said the class admitted for fall 2021, the first to use this policy, is the best-performing academically in Miami’s history.

Ohio K-12 schools and many across the nation were closed by the pandemic in the last third of the 2019-20 school year. And the 2020-21 school year has seen historic disruptions in class schedules and learning throughout the country.

Miami’s evaluation of prospective student applications will continue to consider factors such as grades, GPA and strength of curriculum; application essays; co-curricular and extracurricular activities; talent; and personal background, among other factors.

“A test score has never been the only factor Miami’s admission committee considers in application evaluation, and it certainly isn’t the most important factor,” Perkins said. “There are much better predictors of college success such as the strength of a student’s curriculum and achievements in high school courses.”

A test score also will not be required for applicants to be considered for merit scholarships or admission to competitive programs such as honors or the Farmer School of Business. However, students who want test scores to be considered will still have that option.

In recent years Miami has seen about 4,000 freshman admitted each fall to its main Oxford campus, where undergraduate and graduate enrollment annually totals about 20,000.

The new admission policy regarding SAT and ACT exams does not apply to students seeking to enroll at Miami’s regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown where each school has an open enrollment policy.

At Miami, all applications are evaluated both to determine whether students are academically prepared and to gauge how the applicant might contribute to their academic program and the community overall. With competitive programs, how a student may contribute to the community becomes a more important factor in admission decisions, stated school officials.

“The College of Engineering and Computing is committed to attracting the best and the brightest to engage in innovation and discovery through our project based, hands on curriculum,” said Beena Sukumaran, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “Consistent research has shown that test scores are not the best predictor of success. A student is a great fit for our academic community if they have a growth mindset, love to learn and challenge themselves, and have the passion to work on meaningful projects that improve the quality of life worldwide.”