University of Houston System Adopts Test-Optional Admissions

COVID-19 Pandemic Fuels Change for System’s Four Universities

The University of Houston System has joined a growing number of higher education institutions in adopting test-optional admissions through summer 2022.

The decision is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc with testing dates and locations for the SAT and ACT, standardized admissions tests that traditionally have been required for admission.

“While standardized tests have long been used as an important metric, we know there are other ways to ensure we are admitting students who will be successful on our campuses,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH System senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This is a time that requires all of us to be flexible and creative.”

UH System universities – the University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Clear Lake and University of Houston-Victoria – last spring adopted test-optional admissions for summer and fall 2020. The latest decision extends that in recognition that not all prospective students will be able to take an ACT or SAT.

The use of standardized tests for admission to graduate programs will be made by each program.

The idea isn’t new. A number of universities across the nation had already begun to admit students without considering standardized test scores. The pandemic has accelerated the trend.

“Student success is the bottom line when universities determine the criteria for admission,” said Richard Walker, UH System vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment services. “We will continue to automatically admit any student graduating in the top 10% of their Texas high school class, and we have adopted additional admission standards for those applicants without test scores.”

Each of the four system universities has established its own criteria for admissions in the absence of test scores, considering factors such as high school grade point averages and holistic reviews. Students who choose to submit SAT or ACT test scores – those who took the test in their junior year, for example – will still be able to do so.

Admission criteria is detailed on the individual university websites. University of Houston admissions criteria is available here. Criteria for UH-Clear Lake is here, and for UH-Victoria is here. Information on UH-Downtown admissions is here.

Mara Affre, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services, said system enrollment officials had considered test-optional admissions before COVID-19 closed testing centers across the country and could continue the practice after 2022.

For now, students applying to UH who choose to be considered for admission without test scores and do not meet assured admission with their high school GPA will be asked to complete a resume highlighting special talents, honors, work, volunteer and family responsibilities to be considered as part of the University’s holistic review. Students also will submit essays, allowing admissions officers to gain a better understanding of their academic profile and experiences.

“There isn’t just one thing we will assess, it will be all of these pieces combined,” Affre said.