University of Texas at Austin Will Return to Standardized Testing for the Class of 2029

16/03/20249 minute read
University of Texas  at Austin Will Return to Standardized Testing for the Class of 2029

This week the University of Texas at Austin announced it will reinstate standardized testing for admissions, beginning with the Class of 2029 (applicants for the Fall of 2025). The announcement by UT Austin is more evidence of an emerging shift away from test-optional policies instituted in response to the pandemic. UT Austin's announcement follows on the heels of similar announcements from three Ivies, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown, with Yale announcing a test-flexible policy that offers leeway for the kinds of test scores it will accept.

UT Austin Will Require Test Scores for the Class of 2029

After four years of test-optional admissions, leaders at UT Austin recently announced a plan to reinstate testing requirements for students applying to enroll in the Fall of 2025 (Class of 2029).

While a handful of other prominent schools, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown, also made similar announcements during the past several weeks, citing an interest in holistic, inclusion-focused admissions objectives, UT Austin officials gave slightly different reasons for their decision.

UT Austin President Jay Hartzell said that having test score data for all applicants will help them more fully assess college readiness and support academic support needs and interventions:

Standardized scores combined with high school GPA support this goal by improving early identification of students who demonstrated the greatest academic achievement, the most potential, and those who can most benefit from support through our student success programs.

Historically SAT/ACT exams have played a pivotal role in admissions decisions at top-tier universities, since they provide an objective indicator, compared to GPA, which is often impacted by school or classroom policies, or by inequitable educational opportunities.

At UT over the past decade, test scores have also played an important role in helping officials improve academic support for students, helping the school raise graduation rates from 52% in 2013, to 74% by 2023.

UT Austin officials also announced that "the University will continue to conduct a holistic review and will consider standardized test scores and other performance metrics in light of each applicant’s background, including the strength and rigor of their high school."

If you have UT Austin on your list of target schools be sure to plan and prepare ahead of time in order to ensure you have either SAT or ACT test scores to submit with your UT Austin application, while also taking every opportunity to practice the test and get the best scores possible.

Students worried about testing and test scores may also want to consider getting help from a tutor who is qualified and experienced in SAT/ACT topics and formats.

Blog Banner
Blog Banner

When Does the New Testing Requirement Start?

The new testing requirement starts August 1, 2024, so students aspiring for admission to the UT Austin need to submit SAT or ACT scores if they apply for the Class of 2028 or after that.

Is UT Austin Making Other Changes for Admissions?

Yes. This week officials at UT Austin also announced additional changes designed "to improve the application experience for prospective students" — changes important for prospective applicants to know about, which include:

  • A new Early Action admissions program, with an October 15th deadline
  • An admissions waiting list
  • Some modifications to requirements for letters of recommendation and personal essays

Across these changes, the school reaffirmed its commitment to a holistic admissions process.

Which Schools Still Have Test-Optional Admissions and Which Don't?

Many schools moved away from standardized testing requirements out of concerns about test bias, fairness in admissions, or else as a practical matter, in response to pandemic isolation.

This means many top schools still do not require SAT/ACT scores for admissions, in most cases giving students the option to submit or not submit test scores. But will this continue to be the case going forward?

Harvard has stated it’s test-optional policy is in place up through its Class of 2030. We’ll have to see what direction Harvard takes on its standardized testing policy after that.

Unlike Harvard, other Ivies, such as Cornell, Columbia, Princeton, and UPenn all went test-optional, but only through 2023, or 2024, with Cornell recently announcing plans to keep the test-optional policy in place longer.

Another top school, Stanford, has also extended its test-optional policy through the Fall of 2025.

The University of California system currently has a test-blind admissions policy in effect and has not announced plans to change its policy.

The University of Chicago also has stopped requiring test scores for admissions, using a test-optional policy with a “No Harm” provision, meaning any SAT or Act score submitted will only be used in review for the purpose of positively affecting an applicant’s chance of admission.

MIT, on the other hand, reinstated standardized testing policy over a year ago, for students applying to enter in the Fall of 2023.

Given this shifting landscape, students and parents should be on the look out for what comes next with regard to testing policies for admissions.

Will more schools extend test-optional policies?

Or, will more and more schools quickly get in line behind Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, and now UT Austin as well, reinstating test-mandatory policies?

Learn more about the Top 100 Colleges That Are Test-Optional in 2024/25.

Learn more about the Top Colleges That Require SAT/ACT Scores in 2024/25.

Get expert insights to help you Decode Shifting Norms for SAT/ACT Testing and College Admissions.

Blog Banner
Blog Banner

Tips for SAT/ACT Success

Below are some simple and practical steps students and families can take right now to prepare for a college admissions future where test score requirements are once again the norm!

These steps include:

  1. Improve your mastery of relevant SAT/ACT topics and concepts by enrolling in rigorous courses in English and math
  2. Make a plan that will help you achieve the best scores possible, including the use of study resources and practice tests
  3. Get help from a highly qualified online tutor
  4. Be diligent about SAT/ACT testing and reporting timelines

These are all practical steps you can take, steps our Advisors find to be very effective in helping students chart a path to a better SAT/ACT score that fully reflects their potential!

What Makes Crimson Different

Final Thoughts

Although the vast majority of US colleges and universities moved away from testing requirements during the pandemic, or even before that, four very prominent schools — Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, and now the University of Texas at Austin — have recently reinstated test requirements.

If you're applying to more competitive schools, even ones that are test optional, Crimson strategists typically recommend students aim to submit the best scores possible in order in the hopes of garnering a more competitive position.

Now it appears even more schools may go back to requiring testing, making it even more crucial to plan ahead and be prepared.

If you're deciding whether to take the SAT or ACT, or want other kinds of personalized admissions planning insights, we encourage you to book a free consultation with a Crimson counselor. Together, we can plan your journey to UT Austin and help you identify and explore other great schools that fit your passions, goals, and interests.