Our admissions process has always relied on what we call “whole person review:” the practice of considering each student’s individual context and environment as we learn through their applications about their lived experiences, their achievements, and the academic and personal contributions they have made in their respective communities. This philosophy will continue in the age of COVID-19.
We are committed to continuing to work with all of our applicants and their counselors to understand the ways in which their lives have had to shift in light of COVID-19, and to support students in their efforts to represent those shifts in their Penn applications.
Please see below for answers to some of our frequently asked questions.
How will we review remote education? What does that mean for prospective or admitted students?
Schools and districts are making the best decisions they can at this moment in the interest of their students' health and educational experience. We respect and support the decisions schools are making, and recognize these decisions are outside of the students' control. We stand by our admissions decisions and our offer of admission. We expect students to make the most of the educational opportunities available to them regardless of whether that takes place in person or virtually. The fact that the educational setting is remote will not have any bearing on their application review or outcome. We urge students and counselors to be proactive in informing us of any course adaptations as well as adjustments to extracurricular activities required by mandatory COVID-19 accommodations or any other circumstances that have an impact on performance or attendance.
Do we support secondary schools switching to pass/fail grading options at this time?
Schools and districts are making the best decisions they can at this moment in the interest of their students' health and educational experience. We respect and support the decisions schools are making, and recognize these decisions are outside of the students' control. We expect students to make the most of the educational opportunities available to them.
How will we interpret attendance or grade drops for prospective or admitted students?
We recognize this is a challenging time, and we urge students to practice self-care. If these or other circumstances have an impact on performance or attendance, then we urge students to be proactive in providing an explanation. We will evaluate the final reports for all enrolling students and school administrators should elaborate on any course adaptations required by mandatory COVID-19 accommodations at that time. We will follow up should we have any questions.
Have we updated our policies around granting credit for end of year exams (AP, A-Level, IB, etc.)?
Penn will continue to grant credit and placement for these exams. Credit policies can be found here. We understand some scores will now be based on online tests, while other scores will be based on year-long academic coursework. Testing agencies are making prudent decisions to prevent large gatherings of people. We are in communication with testing agencies around the world and we support them in the decisions they feel they need to make.
Have we made any changes to our standardized testing policies?
We routinely review the role of standardized testing in our admissions process. Testing agencies including the College Board and the ACT have cancelled multiple test dates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We believe these are responsible decisions, and we recognize the impact fewer test dates will have on students’ plans.
In response to COVID-19, Penn will not require applicants to submit the SAT or ACT tests through the 2023-24 application cycle. This applies to first-year and transfer applicants. Applicants who do not submit SAT or ACT test scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process.
Students who are able to take the SAT or ACT exam and wish to report them may continue with that plan. For more information, please see our main testing webpage and our revised testing policy for students planning to apply through the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.
Have we made any changes to our English language proficiency policies?
Yes, please see our updated English proficiency testing policy below.
A strong command of the English language is necessary for successful study at Penn. Applicants who meet one or both of the criteria below are considered proficient in English.
- English is the applicant’s native language.
- English has been the applicant’s primary language of instruction for the duration of high school.
If neither of these statements is true, applicants are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test to demonstrate English proficiency. Where the TOEFL iBT is not available due to COVID-19, applicants can take the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. Please note that Penn does not currently accept the IELTS Indicator exam or the MyBest score feature from TOEFL.