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The challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may soon help remove a major barrier to college admission for many Iowa students. The realization that overall grade point average and other factors might be a better gauge of some students' potential success than standardized tests is creating a growing movement across the country that the major universities in Iowa might soon adapt.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the Iowa Board of Regents is debating the elimination of the requirement to submit ACT/SAT standardized test scores to get into the University Of Iowa, Iowa State, or the University of Northern Iowa.

The universities would become "test-optional"

Many institutions outside Iowa follow this format. Students could certainly take the tests and submit their results, but it simply means they wouldn't be required to. Other, mostly undetermined criteria, like grade point average, would be more heavily weighted. That's where opponents to the move come in. More information on that criteria would be sure to come, but for now, they're concerned.

The move will be taken up in a Board of Regents meeting on January 12, and if passed, would follow the Universities of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Nebraska, among others, like the University of California, who to date is the largest university to do away with test requirements.

The impact may hit a different group in Iowa City

The nonprofit ACT organization itself is based in Iowa City and has been preparing for this move. Janet Goodwin is the COO and said:

We agree with the regents that staying in a competitive context with their peers is important. I was expecting this after the new year; we had signals from our contacts that this was coming. We understand it, we support it, and we're here to support institutions as they work to support students.

There is also the matter of the cost of the test for some families. ACT is taking steps to help with that, creating fee waivers and test prep assistance.

If the Iowa Board of Regents approves the change next week, it then goes to Iowa Administrative Rules Review Committee. The Council of Provosts already approved it unanimously last November.

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