NCAA Test Score Task Force Open to Removal of Score Requirements

The NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force recommended that initial-eligibility standards for high school students preparing to play Division I or II sports no longer include a standardized test score requirement.

The recommendation comes after nearly six months of work by a group representing both divisions and led by David Wilson, president at Morgan State.

task force“This work reflects the NCAA’s commitment to continually reviewing our academic standards based on the best available data and other relevant information,” Wilson said. “We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletics eligibility aligns directly with that movement.”

The task force was formed as a result of the NCAA’s eight-point plan to advance racial equity. Reviewing initial eligibility requirements, particularly the SAT/ACT score component, was a significant part of that plan.

Throughout its work, the task force engaged several groups for feedback, including governance groups, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the testing agencies, specifically the College Board and ACT. The group also surveyed Division I and II membership for additional input.

This input, as well as data presented by NCAA research staff and external bodies, helped inform the group’s recommendation.

The Division I Committee on Academics and Division II Academic Requirements Committee will consider the recommendation at their next meetings in February 2022. Any potential changes to initial eligibility requirements must be reviewed through the legislative process in each division.

More details about the need for the task force and the intended nature and scope of its efforts are outlined below.

  1. Initiatives to advance racial equity. The SAT and ACT have historically played an important role in college and university admissions requirements.  However, the equity and accessibility impact of relying on test scores as part of admissions decisions has been a growing topic of debate across student populations and with various advocacy groups.  In 2020, the NCAA  identified eight action items designed to address racial justice and equity at the National Office and to foster a culture that advances racial equity within its membership.
  2. Higher education’s shifting position on standardized tests for admissions processes. While colleges and universities have historically relied on SAT and ACT scores to evaluate applicants as part of the admissions process, there has been growing momentum in recent years toward test-optional admissions and a more holistic review of a prospective student’s academic credentials. Since the onset of the pandemic, many institutions have indicated that standardized test scores would not be required for students applying to enter fall 2021. Some institutions have announced the adoption of temporary, and in some cases permanent, test-optional policies or multi-year pilot programs.
  3. Ongoing NCAA Standards Evaluation. Given the continually evolving landscape of education, the NCAA engages in regular monitoring and assessment of membership academic data to evaluate the effectiveness of its related eligibility standards. Assessments related to the predictive validity of the current SAT and ACT and the corresponding reliability of the published ACT-SAT concordance table for NCAA initial eligibility determinations are a part of these efforts and data from these studies will help inform the task force conversations.