Frequently asked questions about the test optional policy
In light of the extraordinary circumstances facing students this year, Brown has adopted a test optional policy for first year applicants in the 2020-21 admission cycle. Students who are unable to submit SAT or ACT scores this year due to COVID-19 will not be disadvantaged in our admission process. While standardized testing has long been a component of our holistic admission process and can be informative, it has always been only one part of a much larger and more important story about an individual applicant. We anticipate that the applications that students submit this year will look different than in years past, and we remain committed to a thoughtful and thorough holistic review process.
We hope applicants will have the opportunity to take the SAT or ACT and submit test scores as part of the admission process this year. However, we recognize that many of our applicants will not be able to take a standardized test or submit scores due to COVID-19. If this describes your situation, please know that your application will not be disadvantaged in our admission process, and will receive full consideration by our admission committee.
If you have a standardized test score available to submit as a part of your application, we would like to be able to consider it as one among many factors in our holistic review process. We will also bear in mind that many students may not have had the opportunity to take the SAT or ACT more than once. There are no minimum or cutoff scores required to be considered for Brown, there is no formula for admission, and test scores will continue to be evaluated in the context of all the other information we have about a candidate. Our review process focuses on achievement in context and potential for success, rather than perfection. We hope students will do their best and share that with us, and this year more than ever, we will review test scores with great empathy and understanding.
Since Brown is test optional for first year applicants in the 2020-21 admission cycle, test scores are not a required component of the first-year application this year. If you would like to include test scores for review in your application and are applying Early Decision, testing must be completed by October to ensure receipt of scores. If you are applying Regular Decision, testing must be completed by December to ensure receipt of scores.
Though you are welcome to share disrupted testing plans with us if you choose, we will neither require nor expect any explanation of missing scores. We are aware that testing opportunities have been significantly impacted by the global pandemic. For students who are unable to submit scores, we will look to other components of the application to assess academic preparation.
In the Additional Information section of the Common Application, you will have the option to share how you may have been affected by the events of this year. This is a completely optional question, and any information you share will be used to help us better understand the context surrounding your experiences this year. The question reads as follows: “Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. For more information, check out our COVID-19 FAQ. Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.”
Students applying in the 2021-22 admission cycle or later should plan to submit an SAT or ACT score as part of the application process. Brown’s test optional policy is for the 2020-21 academic year only.
Given the continued impact of COVID-19 across the world, Brown is test optional for both domestic and international first-year applicants this year. For international applicants, we continue to highly recommend the TOEFL or IELTS if students are able to access these exams. We will also accept alternative tests such as Duolingo as a means of demonstrating English proficiency.
Testing requirements for transfer applicants in the 2020-21 admission cycle remain consistent as they are detailed here.
Brown will continue to adhere to Ivy League policies regarding testing requirements for applicants who plan to participate in varsity athletics. Student-athletes with questions about these requirements should contact the Department of Athletics.