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Big Changes at UT Austin: Testing Policies, Essays, and Deadlines

Some big changes are coming to UT Austin admissions in 2024—today we’ll go over important details regarding their standardized testing policy, essay prompts, application deadlines, and more.

Testing Policy

This week, UT Austin announced its reinstatement of mandatory standardized testing as part of the undergraduate application. For the past three admissions cycles (students applying to the university for 2021-2024 admission), students have had the choice of whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered as part of their holistic review. 

Many colleges, including UT Austin, adopted “test-optional” or “test-blind” policies because of decreased access to testing during the initial remote learning period of the COVID-19 pandemic, joining those that had explored or adopted test-optional or no-test policies even before the start of the pandemic. Regardless, over one million students take the SAT every year, and it remains one of the most crucial factors for earning admission to colleges.

Under the former test-optional policy, over 40% of UT applicants elected to have the university consider their SAT or ACT test scores. The university cited College Board and internal data to show that higher college graduation rates and GPA, among other measurements, demonstrated the value and predictive capacity of standardized test results for high school applicants. More specifically, it noted a 260-point difference in median SAT scores between applicants who opted in compared to those who did not: 1420 and 1160 respectively.

Essay Prompt Changes

Another significant change coming from UT this admissions cycle will be updates to the writing components of the application. Previously, UT required a personal statement as well as three short answer responses covering the student’s intended major, background experiences and plans for college, and post-graduation goals. Now, the personal statement long essay prompt will be revised and only two short answer responses will be required: the existing major-related prompt and a new prompt about a chosen activity.

The previous personal statement asked students for 500-700 words in response to the following prompt: “Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?” UT Austin said that the modified personal statement prompt “will provide greater flexibility in topic choice and enable students to leverage responses used on other applications, while expanding opportunity for a more personalized response.” The major-related short response prompt (which will remain unchanged) is “Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?” and asks students to answer in 250-300 words.

Early Action Deadline

In addition to changes in the required components of the application, there has also been a change to the timeline. Historically, UT Austin has offered a Priority Decision deadline where students had the option to have their applications reviewed earlier if they were submitted by November 1. UT will now utilize an Early Action deadline, which is more common among similar colleges. Students who submit applications by October 15 will receive an admissions decision response by January 15. The Regular Decision deadline of December 1 will stay the same and come with a decision response by February 15. The school will also introduce a waitlist and encourage letters of recommendation to come from community members rather than teachers.

Key Takeaways

Admission to UT Austin is selective: in the most recent application cycle, UT received nearly 73,000 applications for fall 2024 freshman admission. This record-breaking number was a 10% increase from 2023’s 66,000 applicants, which itself was another 10% increase from 2022’s application cycle. About 30% of applicants are accepted, but that number drastically decreases to 11% for non-auto admit students (those who do not rank in the top 6% of their graduating high school class). 

With this information in mind, students should prepare to take their application to UT very seriously. And UT isn’t the only college where students will see continually increasing competitiveness and selectivity. Many other schools, like Yale, are bringing back the standardized testing requirement. 

Additionally, with UT’s introduction of the Early Action deadline, students will also need to adjust their college application timeline. Consider the various existing commitments of the fall semester—classes, extracurriculars, and more—and now add in college applications. It’s important to begin applications over the summer to get ahead and work with the earlier deadline while continuing to prioritize quality submissions. 

Finally, students and their families should pay attention to changes coming from the colleges on their lists and follow B2A’s blog for more college admissions updates.

For personalized recommendations and an individualized college admissions strategy, reach out to B2A to schedule a 1:1 meeting. B2A also offers College Admissions Service (CAS) hours for application assistance and the Gateway Program, an all-inclusive college admissions counseling program designed to help students complete 5 applications. 


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