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Purchase Adopts Test-Optional Admissions Policy

SAT/ACT score submission is now optional.

Beginning this fall, prospective students choose whether to submit SAT/ACT scores when they apply to Purchase.

The college joins over 950 institutions of higher education in the U.S. who have realized the benefits of test-optional admissions, including Emerson, Dickinson, and Skidmore.

Purchase has always prioritized factors beyond test scores when considering students for admission. Our holistic review process emphasizes access, fit, and talent-driven assessment, which consistently results in higher academic achievement, persistence, and/or graduation rates.

A test-optional policy aligns with our commitment to wider access, responds to growing concern over the stress of the college admissions process, and mitigates the advantages of pre-test coaching that some applicants may have over others. The policy helps to level the playing field for those students at an economic disadvantage and saves all students time and money.

Studies show that after family income, the greatest predictor of success in college is high school GPA. Furthermore, lower SAT/ACT scores do not impair student achievement in college (NACAC, 2013). SAT/ACT scores are simply unreliable at predicting success among college students.

For the past two application seasons, Purchase has required all candidates for undergraduate admission to respond to the following prompt:

Purchase College’s motto is “Think Wide Open.” It’s our way of learning, teaching, and being, and so much more. By choosing Purchase, students make a conscious decision to join an intense community with a deep respect for individuality and diversity and an unparalleled environment of creativity and innovation.

As an applicant, we want to know what Think Wide Open means to you. All students submit either an essay, video, or a previously graded work for which you earned a B+ or better. It should be original and should connect to Think Wide Open broadly or specifically.

Applicant responses are evaluated for scholastic merit, organization, creativity, originality, purpose, and clarity. In the inaugural year of this change, the yield of the incoming class increased by 3 percentage points.

Applicants who have already submitted their scores may choose to have them considered or request they not be taken into account during review for admission. Students will indicate their preference for use of test results on the Purchase section of the Common Application or the SUNY Supplemental Form. They are welcome to consult with admissions staff about their decision.

In determining academic ability and college readiness, particular weight will be given to a student’s grade point average, class rank, courses taken, evidence of leadership and motivation, and any supplemental items provided by the students as well as the quality of their chosen college preparatory academic program. 

It’s expected this policy change coupled with the required “Think Wide Open” submission will result in the following outcomes:

  • Increased number of applications
  • Improved selectivity
  • Greater diversity
  • More timely admissions decisions
  • Increased number of incoming students for whom Purchase is their first choice.

See links below for additional background on Test-Optional Outcomes.


Dropping the SAT/ACT requirement typically increases applications an additional 250 on average, according to a 2014 study at the University of Georgia.

Score Submission

Dickinson-Test Optional Admissions Policy


Mount Holyoke College’s Experience with Optional Submission of SAT

Results of Removing Standardized Test Scores from College Admissions


Understanding the Impacts of the Test Optional Admission Policy (Ithaca College)

Going Test-Optional: Gathering Evidence And Making The Decision at Ithaca College

Academic Performance

Inside Higher Ed ‘ Virtually No Difference’

Understanding the Impacts of the Test Optional Admission Policy (Ithaca)

Mount Holyoke College’s Experience with Optional Submission of SAT

Graduation Rates

Understanding the Impacts of the Test Optional Admission Policy (Ithaca)


The University of Georgia study, which compared 180 selective liberal arts colleges, 32 of them test-optional, found no statistical difference in enrollment of low-income and underrepresented minority students.

Before Wake Forest dropped its test requirement, underrepresented minorities made up 12 percent of the freshman class. Six years later, their numbers had risen 4 percentage points