SMU Waives ACT/SAT Score Requirement For 2021 Admission

Students applying to SMU for spring 2021 or the following fall 2021 may now choose whether they submit ACT or SAT scores for undergraduate admission and scholarship consideration.  

The university’s undergraduate admission office will reportedly adopt a temporary test-optional policy for one year in hopes of relieving student concerns about testing as they apply to college during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Test-optional admission allows a high school senior to decide if submitting their standardized test scores will accurately reflect their academic achievement.  Since states and cities began issuing stay-in-place orders in March, administrations of both ACT and SAT tests have been cancelled or postponed.  

“This disruption in standardized testing affects all students, some more than others – students we would very much like to have come to SMU.  If we can ease their minds about their inability to take the ACT or SAT, we should do so,” said Elena Hicks, SMU’s dean of admission. The decision followed a campus-wide discussion with faculty and administrators who endorsed the plan and is consistent with changes at many institutions similar to SMU.  Students may still submit ACT or SAT scores if they wish to do so, Hicks stressed.

 Students submit for consideration their high school transcript, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, and a record of what they have accomplished outside the classroom.  

“Test-optional admission is not easier admission,” explained Wes Waggoner, SMU’s associate vice president for enrollment management.  “SMU will still look for students who have excelled in high school – and who will excel at SMU.  Our motto, ‘World Changers Shaped Here,’ still applies.” 

Test scores also will be optional for SMU scholarship consideration. The university awards academic merit scholarships to over half of the students in its first-year class each fall.  Most range in value from $20,000 to $30,000 per year.  Students studying in many STEM fields as well as those completing an International Baccalaureate diploma may qualify for additional awards.  SMU’s programs for President’s Scholars, Dallas County Mustang Scholars, and the Hunt Leadership Scholars provide even larger scholarships.  

The test-optional policy will apply to those applying for first-year and transfer undergraduate admission to enter SMU in Spring or Fall 2021.  Graduate and professional programs at SMU each have separate testing requirements and applicants for graduate admission should check with their intended program’s admission office.  

More information is available at

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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