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Harvard again requiring standardized test scores for those seeking admission

Harvard had initially said it was going to maintain its test-optional policy through the entering class of the fall of 2026.
Harvard University
The campus of Harvard University on Feb. 17, 2024.Erica Denhoff / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard University announced Thursday that it is reinstituting standardized tests as a requirement for admission beginning with the class of 2029, joining other colleges that are again mandating tests for those hoping to enter the schools.

In June 2020, Harvard began a temporary test-optional policy under which students could apply to the college without submitting scores. The change was adopted as access to standardized testing during the pandemic became limited.

Other schools like Yale, Dartmouth, Brown and MIT are also again requiring standardized tests for those seeking admission.

Harvard had initially said it was going to maintain its test-optional policy through the entering class of the fall of 2026.

Under the change announced Thursday, students applying to Harvard for fall 2025 admission will be required to submit standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT exams to satisfy the testing component of the application.

In what the school called “exceptional cases” when applicants are unable to access SAT or ACT testing, other eligible tests will be accepted, including Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams.

School officials said test scores are weighed along with information about an applicant’s experiences, skills, talents, and contributions to their communities, as well as their academic qualifications in relation to the norms of their high school, and personal recommendations.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi Hoekstra said in a news release that standardized tests are a means for all students — regardless of background or life experience — to provide information that is predictive of success in college,

“In short, more information, especially such strongly predictive information, is valuable for identifying talent from across the socioeconomic range,” Hoekstra said.

The school said that all along it welcomed those seeking admission to submit test scores if they had them. Most of those accepted into the college during the past four years submitted test scores, according to the school.

The school also pointed to research that they said found that standardized tests are a valuable tool to identify promising students at less well-resourced high schools, particularly when paired with other academic credentials.