Elite Colleges Consider Reinstating SAT Score Requirements

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many elite U.S. colleges removed SAT/ACT score requirements for application, with countless other schools following suit soon after or in the next few years.

However, recent developments indicate a shift in this trend.

Yale is the latest school reconsidering its action to make standardized testing optional. Dartmouth reinstated its testing requirements earlier this month and MIT reversed its similar policy in 2022.

A study conducted by Dartmouth researchers found that standardized test scores, paired with grades, serve as a reliable predictor of a student’s success in college. The study also highlighted that the scores can identify high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds, rural areas, and schools facing financial limitations.

Paul Reville, former Massachusetts Secretary of Education and current professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education said during an interview with Boston Public Radio that “[This] research shows that [SATs] are a good predictor of college success. They’re a better predictor than grades or teacher recommendations.”

The study also found that disadvantaged students often opted to not submit their high test scores, even though these scores would have helped them in the admissions process.

Another January 2024 study from Brown and Dartmouth researchers found that standardized test scores are not “biased” toward disadvantaged students and that students with the same test scores perform similarly in college, whether they come from a high or low-income background.

Yale’s undergraduate office said in a statement that Yale expects to “announce a decision on its long-term testing policy in the next few weeks.” Applicants for Fall 2024 will still fall under the test-optional policy.

Brown University spokesman Brian Clark stated that a committee is currently developing recommendations concerning standardized testing, legacy admissions, and early decision policies. The university’s decision is expected to be announced in the next few months.

Harvard, Cornell, and Princeton have announced extensions on test-optional policies and Columbia made its test-optional policy permanent.

Additionally, more than 2,000 U.S. colleges have test-optional or test-free policies for 2024 applicants.

The National Education Association (NEA) has demanded that all colleges drop their standardized testing requirements. Becky Pringle, NEA president, said in a statement, “All students deserve and have the ability to demonstrate knowledge in many ways that are measurable by those who know them best – their educators.”