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SUNY Cortland removes SAT/ACT requirement for applicants


SUNY Cortland will be test-optional for prospective students who apply during the 2020-21 academic year, meaning that the university will not require an SAT or ACT score from its applicants.

The decision reflects an effort to continue promoting college accessibility and calm concerns about testing limitations due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“A test score alone has never defined our applicants,” said Mark Yacavone ’94, assistant vice president for enrollment management. “For many years, we’ve used SAT or ACT results as a small piece of a student’s larger body of work — one that includes their overall academic performance, their talents outside of the classroom and other personal qualities.

“But we realize that many outstanding students may not have taken an exam before the pandemic forced cancellations in the spring and summer. We did not want to add another layer of difficulty during the college application process. As a member of New York’s public university system, SUNY Cortland is proud to provide access to a valuable and affordable degree.”

The university will continue to review first-year applicants based on their academic performance and the rigor of their coursework in main content areas such as English, foreign language, mathematics, science and social studies. Consideration is given to classes that are designated college level, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Extracurricular activities and personal statements will help supplement applications, while B.F.A. programs in musical theatre and art studio will continue to require auditions and portfolios respectively.

The undergraduate admissions process will remain test-optional for students who apply to start in Spring 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. SUNY Cortland will assess the effectiveness of test-optional policies on student success and retention to determine measures beyond the 2020-21 academic year. 

“We always strive to bring a strong and inspiring incoming class to Cortland,” Yacavone said. “That means diversity in many forms — socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender expression, hometown, talents and interests. Those qualities should never be obstacles during the college admissions process.”

SUNY Cortland was recognized with several honors during the 2019-20 academic year, including the 2019 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. The university also was the highest ranked SUNY comprehensive college on Money magazine’s most recent list of “Best Colleges for Your Money.”