The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) told The Tennessee Star that no one there can explain why home-schoolers are excluded from its test-optional admissions. Also excluded are those students whose schools didn’t use alpha or numerical grading systems. UTK’s test-optional policy will last until fall 2025.
“Unfortunately, we do not have anyone who can comment around that topic in particular at this time,” stated the UTK spokesperson.
No further explanation is available on the UTK website. However, all other students may take advantage of the test-optional policy. As The Star reported, those students must submit a personal essay in lieu of their ACT or SAT scores.
The prompt asks students to relay their personal history or examples of leadership.
“We believe Vol is a Verb and leadership is a willingness to act,” reads the prompt. “Provide an example of how you’ve demonstrated leadership to make a positive impact in your community (family, work, experience, school, community, service efforts, etc.). Describe the impact of your efforts and why it was meaningful to you.”
In UTK’s press release announcing their commitment to a test-optional admissions policy for the next four years, the university said that the decision had to do with equity.
“The University of Tennessee, Knoxville will make submitting ACT or SAT scores optional through the fall 2025 admissions cycle in an effort to make the application process for undergraduate admission more equitable for prospective students and their families,” read the press release. “A five-year extension of the test-optional process will help alleviate stress and anxiety for prospective students and provide greater flexibility for applicants who may have difficulty accessing tests.”
UTK also implied that they’re considering following in the footsteps of other universities who’ve made standardized testing optional. According to the press release, this five-year period will serve as a trial run of sorts. UTK officials will review the results to determine whether they will extend the test-optional policy beyond 2025.
“[C]ollege preparedness can be displayed in a variety of ways. UT’s application will give students the ability to showcase both academic and nonacademic talents, including leadership, community engagement, critical thinking, and intellectual curiosity,” stated UTK.
Fabrizio D’Aloisio, the UTK Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Undergraduate Admissions Executive Director, said that the five years would allow UTK to assess how effective admissions tests are for students.
UTK never responded to The Star with requested information about how they will weigh various factors in the admissions process.