What began as a temporary waiver has now become permanent: the NCAA will no longer require student-athletes to submit standardized test scores to meet initial-eligibility requirements.
Prior to April 2020, the NCAA Eligibility Center required prospective student-athletes who aspired to compete in Division I or Division II to take either the SAT or the ACT and achieve a certain grade-point average in order to become certified as an academic qualifier. However, when test sites around the world shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA tried to accommodate the myriad disruptions to academic life with a series of temporary measures. This included dropping the testing requirement, allowing for virtual learning, and honoring pass-fail grades.
In May 2022, the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force recommended getting rid of the test score requirement. Those recommendations were put up for a vote at the NCAA Convention in January 2023, and passed. The NCAA’s move followed a trend that started during the pandemic when many colleges and universities decided not to include standardized test scores in their admissions process.
The NCAA’s other academic requirements will remain in place. College-bound student-athletes planning to compete at an NCAA Division I or II school are still required to have a 2.3 grade-point average for Division I and a 2.2 GPA for Division II, in 16 NCAA-approved core-course units, and provide proof of high school graduation.
Note that students may still need to take the SAT or ACT for admission to a particular college or university or for an academic scholarship that might complement an athletic grant. MIT, for example, announced in March 2022 that it would require standardized tests from all future applicant. Both Harvard and Princeton have extended their test-optional policies through the 2026 admission cycle, while the University of California system has done away with testing permanently.
Division-specific information on initial-eligibility requirements is available here:
Division III schools, which do not offer athletic scholarships, have their own rules governing academic eligibility and amateurism. International student-athletes who plan to attend a Division III institution now have to register with NCAA Eligibility Center for an amateurism certification. Click here for more information on Division III requirements for international student-athletes.