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Test-Optional Policy Update

April 13, 2020

Dear Colleague,

I hope this email finds you and your community healthy and safe during these difficult and uncertain times.

We understand that your work and lived experience has changed in recent months, and we also realize this has had a profound impact on your students and families. As such, we are announcing some updates and clarification below to Swarthmore College’s admission process for the foreseeable future.

Offering Flexibility to Students and Our Commitment to You
We realize that many schools around the world have experienced disruptions and closures as a result of the public health crisis. Our regional deans are here to help. We want you to know that we will work with prospective students and applicants to ensure that they are able to apply to Swarthmore, regardless of circumstances.

We also understand that, as a result of school disruptions, students’ high school years may look a bit different, and that’s okay. If your students are no longer able to participate in traditional extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, internships or similar activities, we understand. If your school transitions to pass/fail or credit/no credit grading, that’s fine. If your students don’t think they’re ready to take the newly designed AP exam or are concerned that IB tests have been canceled, no worries. Simply put, we want students to take care of themselves first instead of worrying about the college admissions process for now.

For your students who are ready to start the process, please see the changes we will implement for the next recruiting cycle.

Test-Optional Policies for Incoming First-Year Students in Fall 2021 and 2022

Swarthmore College is suspending the SAT/ACT testing requirement for first-year applicants for fall 2021 and fall 2022, affecting current juniors and sophomores in high school. While we will accept and review examination results if submitted to us, it is no longer a requirement for the next two years. We will re-evaluate this policy for fall 2023 first-year applicants.

Our collective concern during this public health crisis is that students remain home and not risk their health to take standardized tests. We are also concerned about the future of testing administrations, in the United States and around the world. Depending on where one lives, some students already have limited options to take the SAT and ACT, and the worldwide pandemic may exacerbate these issues. Therefore, to reduce anxiety associated with the college admissions process for current juniors and sophomores, we are suspending the SAT/ACT testing requirement.

Students will be able to report previous testing as part of their application process, if they wish. Until now, students could not report the results of their PSAT or PreACT. They will now be able to do so, along with results of any SAT, ACT, AP exams, or IB exams. Sharing exam results will be completely optional, and students who either did not take a test or choose not to share results with us will not be penalized in the admissions process.

We would also like to note that this policy will go into place for all applicants, including U.S. citizens and international students, first-year applicants and transfers, and students attending public and private schools and homeschooled applicants.

Application Fee Waiver Eligibility

We recognize that many students and families are facing financial hardship. We’d like to remind counselors, students, and families that there are numerous ways to receive an application fee waiver, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Eligible to receive free or reduced-priced lunch in school
  • Eligible to receive a fee waiver from the College Board or ACT
  • Receiving public assistance, such as food, housing, or child care subsidies
  • Attending a community college as a transfer student

Prospective first-year and transfer students can complete SwatPass and know within 24 hours whether they are eligible for an application fee waiver. Students as young as high school freshmen can learn about their fee waiver eligibility via SwatPass. We want to ensure that the application fee does not pose an additional obstacle in the college search process.

Virtual Visit Options

Swarthmore's campus is currently closed to visitors. However, we are offering a suite of virtual visit options for students, families, and counselors to learn more about our community. Please visit our How to Connect page for counselors to learn more. Students can visit our Connect with Us page for all of our virtual visit options.  

Commitment to Financial Aid

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on family finances around the world. Please know that we remain committed to financial aid awards that we released just a few weeks ago to our admitted class. We also understand family circumstances may have changed; admitted students are encouraged to be in contact with our Financial Aid office should they have questions or concerns. Prospective students and their families are encouraged to complete our Net Price Calculator and learn more about our need-blind policies, commitment to meeting 100% of determined financial need, and doing so with loan-free awards on our Financial Aid website.

I wish you well in the coming days, weeks, and months. We appreciate your continued partnership and support for your students. Please be in touch with us at should you have any further questions.

Jim Bock ‘90
Vice President and Dean of Admissions