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Following the lead of universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, the University of Michigan will no longer require students to complete the optional writing component of the SAT or ACT when the University’s application goes live Aug. 1.

Kedra Ishop, vice provost for enrollment management, explained in a University Record press release there were several reasons that made the optional writing component expendable for the University.

Erica Sanders, director of undergraduate admissions, explained the new SAT structure developed in 2016 was a contributing factor.

“With recent changes to the SAT, we realized that this additional writing score was no longer needed,” Sanders said. “We’re confident in our holistic review process, which is both individualized for each applicant and comprehensive.”

In 2016, the new SAT switched to more evidence-based writing and reading sections. In the new SAT, scored from 400 to 1600 points instead of 600 to 2400, the test also no longer categorizes reading and writing individually.

In addition to reporting one’s SAT or ACT score, the U-M application requires students to submit multiple writing samples in response to several different writing prompts.

“We believe we have sufficient evidence to assess an applicant’s writing ability without the optional portions of these exams that add cost and time to student testing,” Ishop said.

Fewer than two dozen schools still require the optional writing component, which was developed in 2005 for both the SAT and ACT in an effort to promote the importance of clear and effective academic writing. The University adopted the additional requirement the following year.

According to InsideHigherEd, about 70 percent of students who take the SAT each year take the writing test even though many will attend universities that do not require the additional component.

The article quotes James Murphy, director of national outreach for the Princeton Review, who wrote in response to Ivy League universities eliminating the component.

“We are really pleased to see Princeton and Stanford join not only six other Ivy League universities but also more than 1,600 other schools across the country in their decision not to require the essay,” Murphy wrote. “This is good for students and does no harm to schools. Writing well is an essential skill for college and beyond, but these assessments do a poor job in evaluating writing skill. We look forward to the 23 schools that still require the essays coming to see the light.”

The 2018 SAT costs $47.50 without the essay component, requiring an additional $17 to include it.  Similarly, the ACT costs $50.50 with the writing test an additional $16.50. While some students can qualify for fee exemptions based on family income, the total price of the SAT and ACT does not include the cost to send test results to more than four universities.

According to The University Record, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has already updated its website to reflect this change and shared the news with all deans, associate deans, unit liaisons and campus communicators.

Currently, the University requires prospective students to submit their high school transcript, school report – including their GPA and class rank – one teacher evaluation and a $75 application fee alongside their ACT or SAT score.

The early-action application deadline for the University of Michigan is Nov. 1 and the regular application deadline is Feb. 1.

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