The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) will be test-optional until fall 2025 for all applicants – unless you were home-schooled. UTK will prohibit home-schoolers from capitalizing on their test-optional policy, as well as those students from schools that didn’t use alpha or numerical grading systems. UTK said their decision reflected a commitment to equity in a press release issued on Thursday.
The test-optional policy doesn’t mean that eligible applicants get a free pass entirely from admissions. According to the UTK admissions page, applicants that don’t submit their ACT or SAT scores will be considered a “test-optional applicant” and must submit an additional essay. However, the essay has less to do with academics and more to do with character – the current prompt this year asks applicants to recount an example of their leadership in a personal essay.
“We believe Vol is a Verb [sic] and leadership is a willingness to act,” reads the prompt. “Provide an example of how you’ve demonstrated leadership to make a positive impact in your community (family, work, experience, school, community, service efforts, etc.). Describe the impact of your efforts and why it was meaningful to you.”
UTK clarified that prospective students may still submit their ACT and SAT scores, “if they believe the scores adequately reflect their academic achievements.” They added that all applicants will be considered for the Honors and Scholars programs and applicable scholarships regardless of test score submission.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that homeschooling rates tripled over the past year. 2017 research compiling the results of 14 peer-reviewed studies revealed that home-schooled students outperformed conventionally-schooled students significantly. A 2013 study comparing the mental health, moral reasoning, socialization skills, and maturity levels between home-schooled and conventionally-schooled students reported that home-schooled students surpassed their conventional peers.
The Tennessee Star inquired with UTK spokespersons why they determined that home-schooled students should submit ACT and SAT scores. UTK didn’t respond by press time.
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