University of St. Thomas moving to test-optional policy for ACT, SAT exams

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Soon students applying to the University of St. Thomas won't be required to take the ACT or SAT. 

The change goes into effect for the incoming class of 2021.

Whether it's the ACT or SAT, for many it was the crucial test that helped guide a college choice. 

"You have to study for it, and obviously it's something that decides your future basically," said Charlie Kashmark, a University of St. Thomas freshman.

Now the University of St. Thomas says prospective students do not need to take these scantron-based exams.

"The standardized test is not always the best representation of how a student is going to do in school or the classroom," said Al Cotrone, VP of Enrollment at the University of St. Thomas. 

Al Cotrone is the vice president of enrollment at the University of St. Thomas and he says today about 25% of universities and colleges make these tests optional in the admission process. 

"We are able to say, 'Gosh why are so many schools doing this?'" Cotrone said. 

Instead of including a standardized test score, admissions will key in on high school transcripts, the strength of those courses and extracurricular activities.

"My team is going to have to really get to know students well through their application, and possibly in person, to make these decisions in the absence of the test score," Cotrone said. 

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If students want to take the exams, the University of St. Thomas will still review their scores and consider them on their applications. But Cotrone says the idea is that a test score doesn't tell the full story. 

"There's a whole lot of graduates out walking around today who are doing very well who didn't have great standardized test scores when they were a student. We don't want to miss those students in our classroom," Cotrone said. 

Many students on campus agree. 

"The ACT basically just tests you on how you can take tests," freshman Emma Engebretson said.

"A good thing to look at for people is what they do outside of just school," freshman Jake Thibault said.

"I don't think an ACT score reflects how smart a person actually is," freshman Carter Taney said.

Some current students just wish they were born a couple of years later.

"I'm kind of jealous," freshman Genevieve Tester said. 

"It kind of hurt me because of how much work I put into it but I guess that's good for them," Thibault said. 

The test-optional policy is also in effect at other local schools including Gustavus Aldophus, Concordia St. Paul and Augsburg.