Test-Free Policy FAQ
Canisius’ new test-free policy is the result of years of careful consideration, which we’ve distilled into this FAQ. Learn more about how we decided on this policy and what it means for you.
What does ‘test-free’ mean?
Canisius will not consider standardized admissions test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, as part of admission or merit-based scholarship decisions. This replaces our earlier test-optional policy, where applicants could choose whether they wanted us to consider their standardized test scores. As a test-free institution, Canisius will not consider standardized admissions test scores even if submitted.
When is this policy going into effect?
This policy is effective starting for the fall 2024 admissions cycle.
Are other schools test-free?
Although a few schools are test-optional, a smaller number are fully test-free, but it is a growing movement. Canisius is among the first schools in the country to implement this change, and we’re proud to be the first in the Western New York region.
Why is Canisius going test-free?
Moving to test-free admissions is the next step for Canisius. We first implemented a test-optional policy in March 2020 as part of our response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, we have conducted extensive research evaluating the use of standardized tests in admissions, looking at student performance both in high school and at Canisius. The research pointed overwhelmingly to the work students did in high school as a strong predictor of success at Canisius, whereas their standardized test scores were less predictive.
We strongly believe in our motto that Canisius is where leaders are made, and we know that leadership in the 21st century means responding to unprecedented challenges with nonstandard solutions. A test-free admissions policy will empower students to express who they really are: unique individuals with diverse interests, backgrounds and talents, who will go on to become those leaders.
Without test scores how will you evaluate my application for admission?
Our admissions committee has made holistic admissions decisions for years, looking at each candidate’s application as a whole, not just their standardized test scores. When reviewing candidates we look at the other parts of their application – their academic record in high school, their success in extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, community involvement, service, etc. – which are stronger indicators of their ability to succeed at Canisius and beyond. We’re choosing to place an emphasis on who you are as a student and what you bring to Canisius.
Is anything replacing standardized test scores in the admissions process?
Yes. We’re excited to announce that starting in the fall 2024 cycle, applicants will have an additional application requirement that they will be asked to submit from the following options:
- An additional personal essay.
- An additional letter of recommendation.
- An interview with a Canisius alum, faculty member, or admissions counselor.
- A portfolio, media kit, or even a link to a YouTube, Twitch or other platform channel to highlight skills that demonstrate unique and creative ways of influencing our world.
I sat for one or more Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams in high school. Can I still get college credit?
We will continue to consider AP and IB exam results, but for the limited purpose of awarding credit toward a Canisius degree. (We will also continue to weigh AP and IB courses that appear on a student’s high school transcript toward academic rigor.) As before, the exact amount of credit that a student will receive is determined on an individual basis.
I’m an international student – do I still need to submit English-language exam scores such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?
International students for whom English is not their primary language must continue to submit English-language-proficiency exam scores.
Will I need to submit test scores to be considered for a scholarship?
No. Scores will not be considered for either admission or merit-based scholarship awards.
Do I need to submit a test score if I am applying as a transfer student?
No. Transfer students do not need to submit test scores as part of the admissions or merit-based scholarship review.
I did well on a standardized admissions test, and I want the schools that I apply to to know. How can I do that?
We want to know whatever an applicant considers to be important to them, and we make space for students to do so in other parts of their application, such as their personal statement and interview.
If an applicant chooses to use a part of their application to highlight their admissions test score, they should be aware of the following:
- We will not consider any test score itself toward an offer of admission or a scholarship award.
- We are only interested in test scores in a broader context. Think of it like a story: In what way was your score the result of extraordinary effort or an outcome that defied the odds? Even a poor score that sparks personal insight or change is more compelling than a stellar score achieved under favorable circumstances.