Cal Lutheran won't require SAT or ACT

Switch to test-optional admissions follows research

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – April 15, 2020) In a major shift, California Lutheran University is adopting a test-optional policy for undergraduate admissions. Beginning with those applying for the fall semester of 2021, most students will no longer be required to submit standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT. 

“This policy fits with our longstanding practice of holistic admissions, taking into consideration academic achievement in the classroom, demonstration of resiliency and a marked commitment to education and global citizenship. As we determine admissibility, we want to place an emphasis on factors that contribute to a student’s ability to be successful,” said Michael Elgarico, dean of undergraduate admissions. “This will open doors to more students from a variety of backgrounds who can excel at Cal Lutheran. We have seen that potential for achievement in college may not always be accurately measured in a single test score.”

Cal Lutheran’s decision to go test-optional came after three years of research showing that high school GPA was the best predictor of success for some of its students. Data showed that students with higher GPAs who were admitted to Cal Lutheran had a higher level of achievement and retention regardless of test scores.

National research showing that high school GPA is a more accurate and less biased criterion for predicting college success than standardized test scores has prompted many universities to go test-optional. On average, students who are low-income and underrepresented minorities don’t perform as well on standardized tests as whites and those from affluent backgrounds. The cost of test preparation courses, tutors and retaking exams can give wealthier students an advantage. A 2018 study published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling that compared colleges with and without test-optional policies found that standardized tests failed to identify talented applicants who can succeed in higher education. The study also found that test-optional policies result in more diverse applicant pools and that those who didn’t submit test scores graduated at equivalent or, at some colleges, slightly higher rates than those who submitted scores.

Students can still submit SAT or ACT scores that will be considered as part of their application to Cal Lutheran, but their chances for admission will not be hurt by not submitting scores. Cal Lutheran admissions counselors will continue to evaluate applicants on academic achievement, curriculum and rigor, letters of recommendation and involvement inside and outside the classroom. Students who do not submit test scores will be required to answer four supplemental questions.

The only remaining requirement to submit SAT or ACT scores with applications is for students who have been homeschooled or attend schools that provide written evaluations in place of grades. Students who want to be considered for Cal Lutheran’s top academic scholarship, the Presidential Scholarship, will also need to submit standardized test scores.

For more information on Cal Lutheran’s test-optional policy, go to


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