MSUM to drop ACT, SAT requirements

Minnesota State University Moorhead is seen Thursday, April 8. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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MOORHEAD, Minn. — Minnesota State University Moorhead announced Monday afternoon, June 29, it will no longer require either SAT or ACT scores for admissions.

The change went into effect for 2020 fall semester applicants and will carry on for future applicants.

The university said it eliminated the standardized college admission test score requirement to remove barriers for prospective students and create a more holistic approach to admissions.

The process began roughly 18 months ago when the school started reviewing student data, according to Tom Reburn, director of undergraduate admissions.

“It quickly became clear to us that the strongest indicator of if a student could be successful in a classroom was actually their high school GPA, particularly what their GPA was coming out of their junior year,” he said. “That told us more about a student’s ability to achieve.”


Reburn said MSUM can learn more about potential students by evaluating their four years of high school rather than the result of a four-hour exam.

More than 1,250 schools across the United States are test-optional, according to The National Center for Fair & Open Testing , an advocacy organization that promotes "test-score optional" college admissions.

“A lot of students unfairly feel like this four-hour exam holds the fate of their whole career,” Reburn said. Removing the testing requirement will show students that MSUM has evaluated their entire school career and will alleviate self-doubt, he added.

Removing the testing requirement allows for a more streamlined application process and eliminates a financial burden as tests and preparation can be costly, Reburn said. “They won’t have to go through these extra hoops, so they’ll feel more welcome to campus and confident in their ability to achieve here.”

The move made MSUM the only four-year college in the Fargo-Moorhead area to remove the requirement.

Concordia College will become the second in the fall of 2021 when it switches to make test scores optional. Concordia took test scores into account after reviewing high school transcripts for fall 2020 applicants.

For first-year applicants, North Dakota State University recommends a minimum ACT score of 22 or SAT score of 1100 and recommends that students who do not meet the requirements retest.

MSUM joins University of Minnesota-Crookston as the only four-year institutions in the Red River Valley which do not require ACT or SAT scores for admission.


The North Dakota University System, which consists of 11 institutions across the state, waived its standardized test scores requirements for summer and fall 2020 applicants due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, all schools, including the University of North Dakota and Mayville State University have some form of standardized test score admissions requirements.

For automatic acceptance, the private University of Mary in Bismarck requires an ACT score of 19 or an equivalent SAT score of 980.

Nationwide, notable test-option schools include Bowdoin College, Wake Forest University and the University of Chicago, according to .

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over two years, primarily reporting on business news. Reach him at or by calling 701-353-8363. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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