Duke to Go Test Optional for 2021 Admissions

The undergraduate admissions building, now under renovation
The undergraduate admissions building, now under renovation

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt events and schedules, Duke announced Wednesday that standardized tests will be optional for students applying for undergraduate admission for the 2020-21 academic year.

“We recognize that difficulties in registering for and taking the ACT and SAT are likely to persist for students applying to college this year, and that in general challenges associated with standardized testing fall disproportionately among those with the fewest resources,” said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions.

Applicants may continue to submit standardized test scores as part of their application, but students who choose not to submit standardized test scores will not be at a disadvantage during the decision process.  Guttentag said Duke depends on a “multifaceted review of applications as we seek to understand each applicant as a whole person and potential member of the Duke community.” SATs and ACTs traditionally represent only one segment of that review.

“We hope to simplify the application process this year for those students and families who, like most of us, are facing unusual challenges” Guttentag added.

Guttentag said his office will take the year to assess the future role of standardized tests in the admissions process, particularly “with respect to the impact of these tests on our ability to recruit and enroll students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.”

Read the full text of Guttentag’s message here.