Claremont, Calif. (June 8, 2021)—Nearly two decades after becoming the first college on the West Coast to adopt an SAT-optional admission policy, Pitzer College will switch to a test-blind admission policy for at least three years, beginning with the admission cycle for fall 2022. Pitzer’s College Council approved a three-year pilot phase for the policy in May.
Being test-blind means scores from standardized college entrance tests—the SAT and ACT—will be eliminated from the admission review process entirely. With the previous test-optional policy, applicants could decide whether they wanted to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application package. In recent years, more than 40 percent of applicants who were admitted to Pitzer opted out of including standardized test scores.
Pitzer’s three-year pilot for the test-blind policy will include an assessment of the policy’s impact on the applicant pool, admissions, demographic characteristics, and the goal to enhance equity and access, among other factors.
Pitzer College Vice President for Admission and Financial Aid Yvonne Berumen ’97 and Director of Admission Santiago Ybarra proposed switching to test-blind admissions for multiple reasons, ranging from issues of equity and access to the efficacy of the test itself as an indicator of college preparedness.
One of the arguments for going test-blind now is the same as the one that drove Pitzer’s decision to go test-optional in 2003: scores on standardized tests reflect socio-economic privilege more than college preparedness.
“Studies have shown that standardized testing is a better indicator of family wealth and ability to pay for test prep services than future success at Pitzer,” Berumen wrote in a September 2020 memo advocating for the change.
To gauge an applicant’s potential for future success at Pitzer, the College takes a holistic approach, looking at applicants within the context of their school and community. Pitzer’s admission team evaluates a range of criteria and attributes, including high school transcripts, academic rigor of courses, GPA, essays, recommendations, interests, extracurriculars, and how well the applicant fits with the “Pitzer essence” that is shaped by the College’s core values and educational objectives. It’s a multi-faceted process that involves all applicants being reviewed by the admission committee.
“Considering the many pieces within a student’s application, testing is only one small factor,” Berumen says. “Academic excellence is always important, but we are also interested in learning how students connect with our core values because that answers the ‘fit’ question.”
However, that’s not the perception when it comes to testing. Applicants struggle with what test-optional means and how opting in or out will affect their chances of getting into Pitzer. Removing SAT and ACT scores from the mix eliminates that ambiguity.
Eighteen years ago, Pitzer was at the forefront of the test-optional movement. Today, in response to the impact of the pandemic on testing, more than two-thirds of four-year colleges and universities are not requiring applicants to submit standardized test scores for fall 2021 admission, according to FairTest.org.
The Office of Admission has successfully reviewed tens of thousands of candidates without the use of testing since 2003, Berumen says, but “there is room to go further.”
“The elimination of standardized test scores from our review process entirely has the potential to send a strong message about equity, access, inclusivity, and excellence.”
To learn more about the admission process at Pitzer College, please visit the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.