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Test-Optional Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Mercyhurst make submitting standardized test scores optional?
Mercyhurst University uses a holistic review process when evaluating our applicants; the test-optional alternative allows us to consider how your strengths might be demonstrated in other areas of your admissions portfolio.  While high test scores are an admirable accomplishment, we’ve always placed more emphasis on your academic performance in high school, your demonstrated persistence and resilience, and your extracurricular and community engagement.   

Our test-optional policy allows each applicant to decide how to best demonstrate his or her qualification for admission.  We hope that this policy gives applicants more control in the college application process and that applicants will carefully reflect on how to best present their case for admissibility.  This is the same critical and thoughtful reflection we expect from students when they become members of our intellectual community.  

How does this change the way Mercyhurst University evaluates applications?
We continue to evaluate applicants in terms of their academic abilities and potential, leadership and extracurricular involvement, and the potential contributions they might make as members of our campus community.  When evaluating applications, we place more of an emphasis on a student’s performance in high school and consider the applicant in the context of his or her unique life circumstances.  Students submitting SAT or ACT scores will have them considered as part of their overall academic achievement.

For accepted students, their academic accomplishments are used to evaluate eligibility for merit scholarships.  High school GPA, high school rank, strength of a college-prep curriculum, and test scores (if submitted) are considered in this process, along with information about a student’s high school and family context.

Why would an applicant choose to submit SAT or ACT scores if they are not required?
Many students will still choose to submit test scores, even with our test-optional alternative.  Some students may feel that their SAT or ACT scores are good reflections of their academic ability and potential and would like them considered for admissions and merit scholarship consideration. 

How do I indicate whether or not I want my test scores to be considered for admission?

If you do not submit test scores, but submit the other required application elements (an application, a writing sample, a high school transcript, and a recommendation), we will assume you are applying as a test-optional candidate.  

If you’ve already submitted test scores, but would prefer to have your application evaluated through the test-optional alternative, please complete a Request for Test-Optional Consideration.   We’ll remove your test scores from your admissions file, though we may retain the original scores for internal analysis of our test-optional policy.

What is Supplemental Review?
Some applicants applying under the test-optional alternative are chosen for supplemental review.  In some cases, your admissions counselor believes that his or her admissions and financial aid decisions would be better informed with additional information.  In other cases, we randomly select students for supplemental review as part of our assessment and continuous improvement practices.  If you are selected for supplemental review, there is no need to worry; it is not a reflection of your admissibility and supplemental review applicants are generally admitted at the same rate as traditional applications.  

If you’re selected for supplemental review, your admissions counselor may request: 1) an on-campus or phone interview to learn more about you, 2) completion of a supplemental questionnaire, or 3) a graded writing assignment you completed as part of your high school curriculum.

Are there any exceptions to this policy?
Yes.  Homeschooled students are required to submit an ACT or SAT score as part of their admissions portfolio.  In addition, international students whose native language is other than English are still required to submit their TOEFL scores.  In addition, students seeking admission to colleges and universities with whom Mercyhurst University has affiliation agreements may still be required to submit SAT or ACT scores to the affiliated instution; consult that institutions admissions requirements for more information.