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Press Releases

August 25, 2017

Cleveland Institute of Art goes test-optional for new applicants

Beginning this fall, the Cleveland Institute of Art will allow prospective students to decide whether to include scores from standardized tests when applying for admission.

The change reflects an evolution in the understanding of the strengths and limitations of the SAT or ACT as predictors of college success. The switch to a test-optional process affects students wishing to be admitted in fall 2018 and later.

“We know that some highly creative students, who demonstrate tremendous skills in critical thinking and problem-solving, may not always be well served by one-shot standardized tests,” said Jonathan Wehner, vice president of enrollment management and dean of admissions. “We want to give prospective students every opportunity to show us their strengths, because ultimately those are what they will build upon when they are accepted at CIA.”

Traditionally, acceptance at CIA has been based on a number of factors, including a portfolio evaluation, high school grade point average, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and ACT or SAT scores.

In recent years, an increasing number of colleges and universities have moved toward test-optional admissions policies. This includes nearly half of the member colleges of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, to which CIA belongs.

Under the new protocol, applicants may choose to submit results of standardized tests. Students who do not elect to provide standardized testing will not face penalty in their evaluation for admission and merit-based scholarship.

“Standardized testing can absolutely provide additional context to an application,” Wehner added. “However, through our research, we found that students’ portfolios and high school grades were equal or better at predicting students’ success at CIA.”

For more information on admission to CIA, visit

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