NCAA Will No Longer Require Standardized Testing

Equity was at the center of the decision as the NCAA considered biases that can impact standardized testing and race-based scoring gaps.
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  • Under guidance from the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, the Division I Council voted to eliminate the testing requirement altogether.
  • It's among one of the NCAA's steps to advance racial equity in collegiate sports.
  • Students who hope to compete at the DI or DII level will still be required to maintain a minimum GPA for core-courses to be eligible.

The NCAA announced last month that it will eliminate standardized testing requirements for incoming first-year student-athletes, the latest move in a massive modernization effort by the organization that governs intercollegiate athletics.

The announcement was among several rule changes agreed upon during the NCAA's 2023 Convention held Jan. 11-14 in San Antonio, Texas.

The NCAA has waived standardized test requirements in Division I sports since April 2020 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, the NCAA required student-athletes to earn a specific score on either the SAT or ACT, dependent on their GPA, to qualify to compete. The updated rule is effective for students enrolling to Division I and II universities full time in 2023-24.

The decision to drop testing requirements was made on the recommendation of the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, a group challenged with reviewing the initial eligibility requirements as a part of the NCAA's plan to advance racial equity.

The promotion of equity was at the center of the NCAA's decision, given the biases that can impact standardized testing, including family income variations that affect access to preparation materials and race-based scoring gaps.

"As some NCAA member schools shift away from requiring standardized test scores for general student admissions, the Council felt it was appropriate to reflect those admission standards in eligibility requirements for incoming freshman student-athletes," Lynda Tealer, executive associate athletics director at the University of Florida and the chair of the Division I Council, said.

Division I and II schools will still require prospective student athletes to have a minimum core-course GPA: 2.3 for DI schools and 2.2 for DII schools. The NCAA also encourages students to check with their specific institutions to see if standardized scores are required for admission or scholarships.

The NCAA's move follows a trend that started during the pandemic when many colleges and universities elected not to include standardized test scores in their admissions process.

In 2020, the University of California system voted to eliminate SAT and ACT test score requirements by 2025.

Harvard announced last year that standardized testing requirements would be waived for undergraduates through the class of 2030.

Colorado and Iowa also recently removed the standardized test requirement at their public institutions.

The California Institute of Technology last August extended its moratorium on requiring test scores until 2025.

According to the College Board, 700,000 fewer students in the high school class of 2021 took the SAT than in the class of 2020. Last January, the organization announced that the SAT will be going digital by 2024.