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The University of the Ozarks announced a new policy that makes submission of SAT and ACT test scores optional for admission.

Under the new policy, which is effective immediately, people who apply without submitting SAT or ACT test scores, called "test-optional," will receive full consideration without penalty, according to a news release from the Clarksville university.

"The University of the Ozarks emphasizes a holistic review of a student's application and we believe that factors other than standardized test scores are stronger predictors of a student's potential to succeed in college," said Reggie Hill, assistant vice president for advancement and director of enrollment management.

Hill said in the release that the school's research confirmed the best indicators of academic success were grade-point average, extracurricular activities, co-curricular activities and the "rigor of course work taken during high school."

The release said applicants can submit SAT and ACT scores if they believe the results best represent their academic p0tential.

Competitive candidates for admission to the university under the test-optional policy should have a minimum high school grade-point average of 2.5 and demonstrate above-average performance in English, math and social sciences, the release said. The school's admissions committee also looks for consistently above-average performance throughout the applicant's high school career.

University of the Ozarks is a fully accredited, private undergraduate university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, according to its website. It has existed in Johnson County in one form or another since 1834, becoming a university in 1987.

All public higher education institutions in Arkansas require ACT and SAT scores in their admissions processes, said Marla Strecker, senior associate director for research and analytics in the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

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But many of the state's colleges and universities are moving toward considering multiple criteria of an applicant's academic history in deciding admissions, she said.

Strecker said a student may have a bad day on the day he takes the ACT or SAT. But multiple criteria, such as grade-point average and activities, give a more comprehensive picture of a student's performance and potential to succeed.

Anything that gives a more complete academic picture to place students is best for the student, she said.

Students applying for admission to private schools will need ACT and SAT scores if they plan to apply for state financial aid such as the lottery or governor's scholarships, the two largest scholarship programs in the state, Strecker said.

The University of the Ozarks' news release said school officials adopted the test-optional policy after a study showed there was no direct correlation between academic success and standardized testing.

The release did not name the study. But a 2015 article in The New York Times reported on a study released in 2014 by Bates College's former dean of admissions, William Hiss, of 33 private and public test-optional colleges and universities.

Of 123,000 students studied, 30 percent were admitted without submitting ACT or SAT scores. The Times article said Hiss had found no significant difference in graduation rates between those who submitted the test scores and those who didn't or in their cumulative grade-point averages.

State Desk on 12/29/2016

Print Headline: ACT, SAT optional at Clarksville school

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