The University of Texas at Austin will once again require applicants to submit standardized test scores, beginning with applications to enroll in the fall of 2025.

The university suspended the testing requirement in 2020 because of limited access to testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critics of testing requirements have said they foster inequities because students from affluent families can access test prep to improve their scores. But universities have been questioning whether test-optional policies are the solution.

In explaining the university’s decision to reverse course on testing requirements, UT-Austin president Jay Hartzell said ACT and SAT test scores help identify how students will fare in their first semester of college and which students would benefit from extra help.

“Our experience during the test-optional period reinforced that standardized testing is a valuable tool for deciding who is admitted and making sure those students are placed in majors that are the best fit,” Hartzell said in a statement Monday.

UT-Austin, the most selective public university in the state, joins a growing number of schools across the country that have reversed test-optional admissions policies, including Brown, Yale, Dartmouth and Georgetown.

UT-Austin grants automatic admission to Texas students who graduate in the top 6% of their high school class. Other students are admitted on a “holistic” process, which includes standardized test scores.

The school saw a record high of about 73,000 applicants last year. About 90% or more of those applicants took a standardized exam, according to College Board data shared with UT-Austin.

The university also announced Monday that for the first time it will have an early action process that will allow applicants for the fall 2025 semester to apply by Oct. 15 to get an earlier, nonbinding decision about their application.

Disclosure: College Board and University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Sneha Dey covers pathways from education to employment for the Texas Tribune in partnership with Open Campus.