The University of Maryland will extend its test-optional application policy to the spring and fall admissions periods of 2022 and 2023, according to a Monday campuswide email.

Under the test-optional approach, students can choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores. The university first implemented the practice in 2020 for people applying for the upcoming fall semester.

Standardized testing became difficult for applicants during the COVID-19 pandemic due to exam cancellations and the possibility of virus transmission, and it may remain that way for the foreseeable future, said Shannon Gundy, the university’s executive director of undergraduate admissions. Extending the policy can keep the application process easy to navigate, according to a press release.

[UMD joins the Common Application]

“We remain very sensitive to these challenges and want to ensure that our process does not impose barriers to students,” she said in the release, adding that students who choose not to submit test scores won’t be disadvantaged in the process because of the university’s holistic approach to admissions. 

The two-year extension will allow the university to collect and review data to evaluate how the test-optional approach affects students, as well as the admissions process, the email read. 

“We are also excited to take advantage of the opportunity this presents us to ensure that our admission process is as effective as it can possibly be in identifying the students who are best positioned to realize their full potential and to benefit from what we have to offer,” Gundy said in the release. 

[It’s been a year since most UMD classes moved online. Here’s how students are handling it.]

The university also hit a record number of 50,000 applicants this year, the email read, as well as a record number of Black and Latinx applicants. In the email, university President Darryll Pines wrote that this is a significant step forward in the university’s effort to increase the student body’s overall diversity. 

In 2020, the university also joined the Common Application to increase access and reduce barriers in the college application process, according to the email.