Morrison Hall, home of Princeton’s admissions office
Nick Donnoli, Office of Communications
The change recognizes challenges students face in the pandemic 

Princeton’s Office of Admission has suspended the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate applicants in 2020-21 and will have one application deadline — Jan. 1, 2021 — instead of separate dates for single-choice early action and regular decision, the University announced June 18. The changes were made in recognition of the challenges students are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

High school seniors, their families, and their school counselors and administrators will be encountering “many hurdles” when they begin the next academic year, according to a University release. “We know returning to classes in fall 2020 will require students and staff to acclimate to an altered environment,” Dean of Admission Karen Richardson ’93 said in the release. “We hope that by pausing our Single-Choice Early Action program this year it will reduce some of the pressure on applicants and give them the time to prepare their strongest applications.” 

Princeton’s decision to make the SAT and ACT optional follows similar announcements from peer schools, including the seven other Ivy League institutions. Applicants may still submit test scores, but those who do not “will not be at a disadvantage,” according to the University. Transfer applicants also will not need to submit SAT or ACT scores in 2020-21, and the transfer application deadline in early March will not change. Recruited athletes will still need to submit standardized test scores to comply with Ivy League policy, but the admission office “will be flexible in its review for those who simply cannot gain access,” the University said. 

The College Board, which administers the SAT exam, said on its website that there is “unprecedented demand” for the exam, as spring testing was canceled. Capacity is limited because of because of social-distancing requirements, though the College Board was looking to increase the number of testing facilities. The ACT exam was administered in June, but not all test centers were open. Plans were to administer a test July 18; students will be screened for COVID symptoms, required to six feet apart from each other, and encouraged to wear masks. Not all testing centers will be open.

Read PAW’s Q&A with Dean of Admission Karen Richardson ’93 on May 18