Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is making SAT/ACT tests optional in the admissions process for undergraduates, effective immediately for students applying for fall 2020, the college announced Monday.

With the new policy, SMWC joins a growing list of more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States that have made SAT/ACT tests optional.

“Obviously, we have watched what is going on with a number of schools” nationwide, said Brennan Randolph, SMWC vice president for enrollment management and information technology. “I think a lot of the reasoning is diversity and inclusion and ensuring institutions like SMWC eliminate as many barriers as possible for applicants to be considered for admission and ultimately become students.”

Factors such as GPA and high school curriculum will be used to evaluate prospective students who elect test-optional. If a student chooses to submit test scores, the scores will also be included in the overall evaluation process.

This approach will allow SMWC to consider student strengths in other areas.

“Research indicates that a test is not necessarily the best determining factor for student success in college,” Randolph said. High school GPA, along with a student’s transcript of courses, are stronger factors in determining academic performance.

While SAT/ACT tests will be optional, the college still “really wants students to take the test” and submit scores during the admission process, Randolph said. Submitting test scores will allow SMWC to consider prospective students for more scholarships.

Otherwise, “They could be excluding themselves from some potential scholarships we could offer,” Randolph said.

In addition, students will only be eligible to compete for certain scholarships, including SMWC’s full-tuition Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship, if they submit their test scores.

Students who are 21st Century Scholars must take an SAT or ACT to qualify for those state scholarships, Randolph said.

This new test-optional initiative is the latest in a series of SMWC efforts to increase student access to an affordable quality education and strengthen its commitment to inclusion and diversity.

The college recently announced that beginning with the fall 2020 class, tuition will be guaranteed for full-time students enrolling in undergraduate classes for eight semesters. Over 95% of SMWC students receive financial aid, with over $9 million awarded in scholarships annually.

To find out more about the process for applying to SMWC, visit

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