Test-Optional Admission PolicyAdmission

Gustavus is proud to offer a test-optional admission policy.

What does that mean?

All students are encouraged to take the ACT or SAT and submit test scores as a part of their admission file. If a student has strong grades and has taken a strong college preparatory curriculum but doesn't feel that their standardized test scores reflect their academic ability, Gustavus does not need to consider test scores as a part of the admission process.

Test scores are required from all applicants unless you select "No" on the "Should Gustavus consider your standardized test scores in the admission process" question on the application.


Because we are committed to evaluating the whole person and recognize that standardized testing isn't always an accurate measurement of a student's true abilities. Studies have shown that the most accurate predictor of future success is what you do every day in the classroom -- your high school transcript -- not your results on one standardized test.

As a Phi Beta Kappa institution, Gustavus continues to have high admission standards—evaluating each applicant for admission to determine their ability to succeed in our challenging academic environment and their capacity to contribute to the campus community.

How does this benefit prospective students?
Students who have demonstrated their preparation for the challenge of Gustavus' curriculum -- through their high school record and achievements -- will continue to be admitted to Gustavus though they may not have reported their test scores. As intense test anxiety and the resulting multi-billion dollar test preparation industry grow wildly, Gustavus can better serve students by alleviating the pressure of mandatory standardized tests and responding to the bias of standardized test preparation.
Who should not report their test scores?
Students who do not feel their test scores accurately reflect their academic ability and potential will have a choice to submit their scores -- giving them some say in the admission process. As a result, those with exceptional ability will continue to be admitted and rewarded based on the other pieces of their application -- their high school transcript, involvement and interests, writing ability, and recommendations.
Why should any student take the ACT or SAT?
Gustavus admission counselors continue to advise prospective students to take standardized tests so they may fully explore their options and to prepare them for later standardized tests such as the GRE and MCAT.* However, these students will benefit from the knowledge before taking a standardized test that they may voluntarily submit the results to Gustavus.
Will submitting test scores be required for any applicants?
While no applicants for admission will be required to submit standardized test scores (with the exception of the TOEFL for international students), scores will be considered when awarding the President's Scholarship, our top academic scholarship. Compared to Gustavus' other academic scholarships, President's applicants will continue to demonstrate their exceptional ability through additional steps: a scholarship application, an interview, an essay, and by submitting test scores.
Are Gustavus's admission standards changing?
No. As always, the emphasis will be on college preparatory curriculum, as a student's coursework and grade point average, are proven to be the best predictors of future academic success. Having a test-optional admission policy reaffirms the importance of a student's long-term preparation for college inside the classroom, not a single, hours-long test given on a Saturday morning. In fact, with a capped enrollment and ever-increasing numbers of applicants, Gustavus will continue to become more selective.
How does this affirm and promote the mission of the college?
Gustavus offers a liberal arts education to students of high aspiration and promise -- qualities that cannot accurately be measured by standardized testing. Important attributes for success at Gustavus -- such as commitment, motivation, creativity, leadership, and maturity -- are better-evaluated by considering a student's entire application. Additionally, this policy continues Gustavus' tradition of innovative education along with Writing Across the Curriculum, the Three Crowns Curriculum, the First-Term Seminar, and the 4-1-4 calendar.

For more information about test-optional admission policies and for a list of other colleges and universities who give students options with standardized testing and admission, visit FairTest.org.

* Bates College has conducted research for over 20 years on their test-optional policy's effects. Their landmark study (www.bates.edu) shows little difference in college academic performance and graduation rates between test-score submitters and non-submitters. There are minor differences in the career outcomes of each group, with exceptions in the four fields where students must take standardized tests for admission to graduate programs (medical, law, M.B.A., or Ph.D.). Therefore, Gustavus believes students planning to pursue additional education beyond their B.A. should familiarize themselves with the structure and experience of standardized testing.