Cherry Hall

The statue of Henry Hardin Cherry in front of Cherry Hall at Western Kentucky University.

Starting next spring, Western Kentucky University will no longer require standardized test scores on exams, such as the ACT or SAT, for most admissions applicants, making WKU one of the first public universities in the state to go test-optional.

It’s a change WKU has been weighing for at least a year and one that coincides with the coronavirus pandemic, which has upended the typical college admissions process.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused changes in the college search application process for most students,” Ethan Logan, WKU’s vice president for enrollment and student experience, said in a news release announcing the change. “Removing the stress associated with standardized tests is an immediate and important step we can take.”

However, WKU’s intent with going test-optional is for it to become a permanent change rather just than a temporary response to disrupted exams, WKU Admissions Director Jace Lux told the Daily News.

Lux pointed to national research and the university’s internal data, which show that a student’s high school grade-point-average is a better predictor of their success in college, he said.

Logan agreed.

“WKU is an institution of access and opportunity, and the research is clear that standardized tests contain inherent bias against underrepresented, first-generation and low-income students,” Logan said. “While we have taken significant action to limit the influence of the ACT and SAT in our internal admission and scholarship processes over the past few years, this change represents another important step toward ensuring that WKU is accessible to students who have demonstrated hard work over four years of high school, regardless of their performance on a single test.”

Standardized test scores will remain a factor in some admissions decisions.

Students with an unweighted grade-point average of 2.0 to 2.49 will still need to submit ACT or SAT scores to be considered for admission. Students with a GPA of less than 2.0 are not admissible, the university said.

Students interested in applying for the Mahurin Honors College or for WKU’s highest academic scholarship awards will be asked to submit standardized test scores.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.