Using Test Scores in the Admissions Process

Effective with applicants for the fall 2021 freshman class, the University of Oregon will become a “test-optional” school, allowing most applicants for freshman admission the option to be considered for admission without submission of ACT or SAT scores.

We don’t want the stress of taking the test to simply be replaced by just as much stress about whether you should send scores to us. Especially during a time of adjustments and test date cancellations due to COVID-19, we also know you might have unusual challenges taking the test in the first place. As always, Admissions wants to see anything that could help us make a decision to offer you a spot in our class.


What do standardized tests tell us, anyway?
On one hand, standardized tests give us a way to measure something about your potential that we can compare equally across all applicants, but there is concern that a test score could simply reflect how good a student is at taking tests. From this perspective, standardized tests present us with a fuller picture for some applicants, but might actually limit or skew our understanding of others.

Each of these viewpoints have their merits, which is why Oregon will continue to let you provide scores as part of your application. But we will never let them be the guiding reason for an overall decision—just part of the picture.

Should I go test-optional and not turn in my scores?
It’s important to know that for many of our applicants, submitting scores is a great idea if you have them. Your GPA/score combination could result in an automatic scholarship. 

Some students don’t realize that scores they consider low can still play a positive part of our decision process. We even take your scores in the context of your school and local background—whether they are meant to or not, ACT/SAT scores are at least partly a reflection of your academic and personal surroundings, and what opportunities have been made available to you. 

Can I still get a scholarship even if I don’t turn in test scores?
This depends on the scholarship. For certain automatic awards like the Summit, Apex, or Excellence, providing scores that meet our minimums are the only way to qualify. For the PathwayOregon award, available to lower-income Oregon residents, you can still be considered without scores. This may change over time. Visit our scholarship pages for the latest information on a wide array of options for freshman applicants.

Will I have a different chance of admission if I don’t provide test scores?
We will not treat applicants without scores differently than those who do provide them. If we determine we cannot offer you admission (by sending you a letter of denial or putting you on a waitlist) and you did not provide scores, you will be given a way to provide your scores at that time as part of any appeal process.

How do I indicate I will not be providing test scores on the application?
There will be a simple check-box on our application that asks if you wish to be considered for admission without test scores. It is important that you check this box if you plan to participate. Otherwise, we will assume that you wish to provide scores and may not consider you until they are submitted.

I’m still submitting scores. Do you prefer one of these tests over the other?
No, we don’t have a preference—US applicants can submit the ACT, the SAT, or both, and we’ll look at where you did your best.  

I’m an international student, so I didn’t think I had to take these tests anyway.
Yes, that’s right. For international students (those who would require a visa to study here), the University of Oregon has not ever required these tests; so, there is no need for you to request consideration without SAT/ACT scores.

We do, however require you to take one of the tests used to establish English proficiency. Especially with the closure of so many testing centers during COVID-19 concerns, we are happy to say we accept the Duolingo English Test (DET), which you can take remotely. We also continue to accept the TOEFL and IELTS for proving proficiency, or the English-related sections of the ACT and SAT. Visit our English Proficiency Test Scores webpage for more information.

NOTE: If you are a US student living abroad, or an international student from a country where English is the official language, those tests are not required. You can choose the test-optional route for admission just like any other US applicant.

What about superscoring?
Superscoring refers to combining a student's best section scores from one test date with another. The UO uses superscoring for both the SAT and ACT in consideration for admissions and scholarships. If you are an applicant who has older versions of the SAT from before March 2016, sorry, but we cannot mix different versions of that test. 

We need to receive all of the sections of each ACT (English, Math, Reading and Science) in order to provide a superscore. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you have your scores sent directly from the testing agency.

If the test I choose has an essay component that I choose to do, will the UO look at that? 
No, we will not.

Someone told me I should take one of these tests instead of the other because it’s easier. Is this good advice?
No, we don’t have any data showing one test is better/worse or easier/harder than the other. In fact, simply taking the first test can help you feel more experienced so that you do better the next time you try one. Our longtime general advice is that any applicant should consider taking both tests, or retaking the same test once or twice, to see if you can improve – but not at the expense of your schoolwork or other planning. Again, aside from certain scores making you scholarship-eligible, it’s just part of the puzzle.

How should I prepare for these tests?
The SAT or ACT is only one of several factors that we consider in our holistic review. So do your best, but don't get too stressed out. If you feel like you need to brush up on your skills before a test, the College Board—the company that administers the SAT—has partnered with Khan Academy to offer free test prep services for the SAT. The ACT offers its own resources on their site. 

Do you require or recommend the SAT Subject Tests?
We have never utilized these scores in our general admission process, no. Even if you submit them, they are never considered, with one exception; our Alternative Admission process for students who are from unaccredited or homeschool environments. However, if you are one of these students, check the Alternative Admission site frequently because we are seeking ways to permit application without scores from these increasingly obscure assessments.

What sources should I use to keep up to date on information about the admission process?
If you're a student considering application to the University of Oregon, join our mailing list to have information like this sent right to your inbox.