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King University Adopts Test Optional Admissions Policies; Admission Changes Focus on Merit over Test Scores

BRISTOL, Tenn., March 7, 2016 – When thinking of college or university admissions processes, most people initially think of student’s ACT or SAT scores. King University has adopted a new admissions policy which will make ACT, and/or SAT scores optional. The University will rather take a more holistic test optional approach to evaluations for acceptance at King.

“We are delighted that King University has adopted the test optional entrance requirement,” Matt Roberts, Ed.D., vice president for Academic Affairs says. “We are dedicated to evaluating all the academic skills and abilities of our potential students that lead to a careful determination in admissions. Like many college and universities in the nation, we believe a high school GPA and careful review of academic preparation reflected in the student's transcript are better determiners of success at the college level. We maintain our commitment to high academic standards, and our data show that student success at King is more correlated with GPA than an ACT or SAT score.”

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (, more than 860 colleges and universities across the United States admit a substantial number of students without regard to [standardized] test scores. Statistics by the Center for the period from spring 2013 to summer 2015, 40 colleges and universities adopted test-optional policies.

“At King, our admissions committee regularly evaluates the processes with which we review student applications,” says Tom VerDow, director of undergraduate recruitment. “The number of traditional students entering college across the country has been in decline in recent years. Throughout the review process, the layers were peeled away, and it became evident that King is already reviewing student applications in-depth and holistically. An applicant’s performance and the rigor with which he or she presented are clearly the most effective tool for evaluating the potential of a student to be successful at King.”

VerDow adds, “We want to celebrate their strengths while providing assistance in areas of which they may be weak. Although the ACT and SAT will not be utilized in making the student’s individual admissions decision, we will utilize the test scores for placement purposes. The tests reflect abilities in certain subjects; we will use this data to help place the students in the appropriate college courses such as first-year English or Mathematics.”

Historically, students entering King University performed well in high school and continue to do so during their time at King. For students considering entrance to King University, ACT/SAT exam scores will be optional to submit for admission to the University. Exam scores will continue to be utilized for specific programs that must have them for state/national requirements. Honors students will still be required to submit ACT/SAT exam scores for acceptance into the Snider Honors Program. Potential athletes will still be required to submit scores for NCAA eligibility. A revised calculation for merit scholarships will be devised to ensure that King maintains the integrity of a merit award and also provides an opportunity for those that select not to submit their scores. Essays and additional information may be requested as needed based on the information submitted by the student.

Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., adopted the test optional policy in recent years. They commented that “In May 2008, [we] announced that [Wake Forest] would no longer require applicants to submit scores for standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT. The policy went into effect with the class that entered in fall of 2009, and we are very glad we made the move. Ethnic diversity increased by 44% from fall 2008, the final year in which scores were required, to the fall 2014. Furthermore, there has been no difference in academic achievement at Wake Forest between those who submitted scores and those who decline to do so.”

Other institutions transitioning admissions policies in the past two years to that of test-optional include Beloit, Brandeis, Drake, Sienna, and Wesleyan. A growing number of public universities, such as Eastern Connecticut, Monmouth State, Old Dominion, Plymouth State, Rowan, Temple, and Virginia Commonwealth, have also eliminated ACT or SAT score requirements for all or many applicants.

“This new policy is progressive for our region,” says VerDow. “We want to remove barriers and provide opportunities. Our hope is for all King students to thrive and succeed, to let the student have his or her identity while at the same time being part of a progressive path.”

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King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.