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Cornell University Suspends ACT/SAT Testing Requirement for 2021 First-Year Applicants


Due to this extraordinary circumstance, students seeking to enroll at Cornell University beginning in August 2021 can submit their applications without including the results from ACT or SAT exams. This will be true for both the Early Decision and Regular Decision rounds of review.


For those who have taken, or who can take, ACT and SAT exams:

Cornell overall has not planned to adopt a test-optional admission policy permanently. As appears to be true at test-optional colleges and universities, we anticipate that many students who will have had reasonable and uninterrupted opportunities to take the ACT and/or SAT during 2020 administrations will continue to submit results, and those results will continue to demonstrate preparation for college-level work.

For those who can’t plan for, take, and submit exams:

Cornell readers will consider with increased scrutiny their other application documents, looking for different evidence of excellent academic preparation, including:

  • challenging courses and excellent grades in each secondary school (high school) context. Note: there will be no negative interpretation for schools and students who have had only pass/fail or similar grading options during this current term;

  • evidence of commitment and effort to pursuing other challenging learning experiences; 

  • results from other kinds of secondary, college-preparatory, and university-qualifying testing where available and verifiable; 

  • care, craft, and authenticity in their writing submissions; 

  • and wherever practical and available, details, insight, and analysis from secondary school counselors and teachers. 

Applicants with no test results might more often be asked after review has begun for additional evidence of continuing preparation, including grade reports from current senior year enrollment when that can be made available in time for Cornell admission review. 

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