UVA, fourth best public college in US, lowers academic standards for two more years

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, several universities relaxed their standardized testing requirements to reduce stress upon applicants.

UVA is extending its “test-optional” policy for two more years.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Virginia will be a test-optional school until 2023.

The university — which U.S. News and World Report ranks as the fourth-best public school in the nation and the twenty-sixth best overall — previously removed its testing requirements for those applying for the class of 2025.

However, the school is extending the policy through two more admissions cycles. For the next two years, students will not have to submit an SAT or ACT score.

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“We believe this is a reasonable and humane response to one pressure that our prospective students are facing as a result of COVID-19,” University of Virginia President Jim Ryan said in a statement. “We want students to focus on things they can control: doing their best in school; cultivating their curiosity; contributing to their families, schools and communities.”

University of Virginia undergraduate student Deven Upadhyay told Campus Reform that “while it makes some sense to adopt a test-optional policy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UVA’s extending of this policy through the next two years certainly undermines the academic excellence of the university.”

“Not everyone may be a stellar test taker, but tests are indisputably the only objective measure available to compare students, regardless of academic background,” he said. “Grades are inflated and deflated from school to school, everyone’s teacher writes them glowing recommendations, and admission based solely on essays can be largely subjective. Without tests, admissions at UVA plays a guessing game with each application, assessing student success on the basis of wildly variable factors.”

Upadhyay added that “a preemptive two-year test-optional policy primes students to take the college admissions process less seriously, discourages underperforming students from brushing up on basic topics required for success in college, and robs them of the familiarity with standardized tests which may help for future exams.”

Campus Reform has detailed other top universities waiving their testing requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — a move that many experts say is indicative of declining standards in American higher education.

Several graduate schools at Stanford University — currently ranked sixth in the nation — revised or scrapped their use of standardized exams.

[RELATED: Stanford scraps admission test requirement for medical students]

Stanford’s School of Medicine stopped asking students to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Students applying to the physics department were not required to submit scores for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

The College Board — which creates and administers the SAT — likewise announced in January that it would cease offering the optional writing section after June 2021. 

[RELATED: College Board scraps key parts of SAT to ‘reduce demands’ on students. Expert questions that logic.]

National Association of Scholars Director of Research David Randall told Campus Reform that the move points to declining standards in American education, as well as financial interests on the part of the College Board.

“The College Board demonstrates far more interest in the bottom line than in educational standards,” Randall said. “The College Board’s abandonment of the essay simply registers the abandonment of the expectation of writing ability in students among our education establishment.”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Virginia for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft