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Statement on Duke Going Test Optional for Admissions in 2021

As summer approaches, it has become clear that the disruptive effects of COVID-19 will continue in some form, perhaps severely, through the rest of the 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. Therefore, Duke University is adopting a test-optional policy for students applying for admission to the first-year undergraduate class in the 2020-21 admissions cycle.  

Students who are unable to or choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores this year will not be at a disadvantage in our consideration of their applications. Our process has always considered SAT or ACT scores as only one part in our multifaceted review of applications as we seek to understand each applicant as a whole person and potential member of the Duke community. We will continue to consider SAT and ACT scores as part of the application of students who choose to submit them and, as always, will accept self-reported scores for purposes of assessing an application; scores sent from testing agencies will be required from those students only if they enroll at Duke. We will continue to recommend tests of English such as DET, IELTS, PTE, and TOEFL for non-native English speakers and students not currently studying in English-language curricula who wish to demonstrate further evidence of their English proficiency. 

We recognize that 2020 is already the most disruptive year in living memory for many, and we know that applying to college is a time- and labor-intensive process. We hope to simplify the application process this year for those students and families who, like most of us, are facing unusual challenges. We also plan to take the year to assess the future role of standardized tests in our admissions process, particularly with respect to the impact of these tests on our ability to recruit and enroll students from historically underrepresented backgrounds.