National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, 2021, Vol. 17:45–62


Copyright © 2021 National Collegiate Honors Council


While there is scant evidence that standardized test results (SAT/ACT) predict college success, these scores can act as barriers to college admissions and honors programs, particularly for students in underserved communities. This study examines the impact of transitioning from an honors admission framework—in which standardized tests are a key variable in the process—to a test-blind environment with holistic admissions protocols that identify students who are academically strong as well as engaged in extracurricular activities. Parallel (test-dependent and test-blind) admissions protocols were used in 2020–2021 applications to determine if a test-blind environment fostered greater inclusivity and diversity in the first-year honors cohort. Data suggest that test-blind transitions yielded a more ethnically diverse honors applicant pool as well as first-year cohort population. Results also indicate that students of color are more likely to notice the test-blind admission option and that this option is more likely to have an effect on their decision to apply than on their white counterparts. Survey respondents (n = 105) also attest to their confidence in graduating with honors. While high across ethnicities and genders, rankings of desire and commitment to remain in the program are highest among Black and Hispanic students. Augmenting data on test-blind admissions, the authors reflect on the newly adopted holistic review process, acknowledging that other aspects of admissions must be addressed for achieving meaningful diversity and inclusion in honors.