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UMass Lowell offers “No-Test Option” for applicants

Lauren Michaels
Connector Contributor

In an effort to use more than one measure of intelligence to assess students’ academic abilities, UMass Lowell has changed their SAT and ACT score policy for admissions in September of 2015. The policy change was to make SAT and ACT scores optional for undergraduate applicants.

Applicants now have a choice to either send in their test scores or choose the no-test option. Instead of sending their scores, applicants are asked to answer three essay questions on leadership, their ability to overcome challenges and their expected contribution to the university. The essay questions are then assessed based on a scoring metric.

Undergraduate Admissions has requirements on eligibility for the no-test option. Applicants applying under the no-test option should have a GPA of 3.25 or higher and evidence of outstanding academic success throughout high school.                                                               

Students and faculty at UMass Lowell have a range of feelings toward the new policy change. Sarah Herrick, a student at UMass Lowell and a customer service representative in UMass Lowell’s admissions office, said, “I feel that UML’s decision to make SAT scores optional comes at a very important time in the progression of university admissions.”                   

Nicholas Gates, a student at UMass Lowell and call center phone technician in UMass Lowell’s admissions office, said, “While I like UMass Lowell’s decision not to use SAT scores as a primary method of admitting a student into the university, I think they should commit to one method or the other…Instead of having students submit their essays only if they’re over a certain mark, it would make sense to either require them or not require them at all.”

UMass Lowell, like many other universities, is making an effort to use more than one measure of intelligence to assess students’ academic abilities. The university is striving for equal opportunity for students of all backgrounds and all different academic skill sets.               

Jackie Dichiara, Assistant Admissions Director of Freshmen at UMass Lowell, said, “Research has shown that students from a low economic status do not test as well on standardized tests. This no-test option is more inclusive for first generation students whose parents are unable help them understand standardized tests. The no-test option is important because it gives students of all backgrounds a chance to go to UMass Lowell.”

After the May 1 admissions deadline the office can begin compiling data to see if the no-test option is successful. Students are utilizing the no-test option at an increasing rate. “337 applicants selected the no-test option on their application,” said Dichiara. In the beginning of June the university will announce if they will continue the no-test option for applicants.                                                                                                         

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