A Guide to Implementing Lottery Admissions in Higher Education

In higher education admissions, academic test scores and GPAs don’t tell the whole story of an applicant’s potential. This realization has sparked a shift towards holistic admission strategies in an effort to support a fairer and more equitable admissions process.

Lottery admissions, a strategy that adds randomness to the selection process, has been used in the Netherlands and is emerging in North America. Introducing a lottery system into your admissions process has the potential to mitigate biases and promote socioeconomic diversity.

Why lottery admissions?

Lottery admissions balance fairness and opportunity, reducing biases inherent in traditional methods. By including non-academic factors like lived experiences and soft skills, they offer a more equitable admissions process.


  • Applicant A: A working-class immigrant with a 3.67 GPA, unable to participate in many extracurriculars due to financial constraints.
  • Applicant B: A middle-class student with a 3.7 GPA, with ample extracurricular opportunities supported by family resources.

Traditional methods favor Applicant B, but lottery admissions can remove such biases, recognizing that slight GPA differences do not define potential success.

Lottery Admission Models

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to implementing a lottery system into admissions. Discover the three main models of lottery admissions.

Threshold Lottery

Sets minimum criteria, ensuring academic preparedness but may exclude otherwise strong candidates.

Rubric Lottery

Uses a scoring guide to balance academic and non-academic factors, reducing the dominance of any single metric.

Formula Lottery

Combines various criteria into a weighted score for a comprehensive evaluation, aligning with institutional missions.

Aligning with Organizational Mission

A mission-aligned lottery process identifies applicants who reflect program values and incorporate the following considerations.

Assessing Skills

Evaluate both academic and non-cognitive qualities like empathy and resilience.


Ensure seamless integration with existing practices and legal standards.

Applicant Experience

Clearly communicate the lottery process to manage expectations.

Risk Management

Regularly monitor and adjust the process for fairness and effectiveness.

Casper and Lottery Admissions

Incorporating the Casper test, which assesses non-academic traits like empathy and communication, enhances fairness in lottery admissions. Threshold models can set minimum Casper scores, while rubric or formula-based lotteries can blend Casper scores with other criteria.

The Casper SJT supports equity in admissions by revealing a broader range of applicant abilities, ensuring a fairer and more comprehensive admissions process.

Are you ready to learn more about how to innovate with lottery admissions?

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September 26 at 12 PM – 1PM ET

Join the live Webinar

Implementing Lottery Admissions for a Fairer Future in Higher Education

Lottery admissions are not a one-size-fits-all approach. This webinar explores the broad spectrum of lottery admissions strategies, the benefits of integrating lottery admissions within a holistic framework, and practical insights for implementing a lottery admissions process.

Join Dr. Kelly Dore, Co-Founder of Acuity Insights and VP, Science & Innovation to learn how an innovative approach to lottery admissions can enhance holistic review practices, paving the way for a more dynamic student body.

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