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Yale to resume requiring standardized test scores for applicants

The Ivy League university said testing can “highlight an applicant’s areas of academic strength” and can help add diversity in the classroom.
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Yale University announced Thursday that it will resume requiring prospective students to the Ivy League institution to submit standardized test scores when applying for admission.

The New Haven, Connecticut-based university said "research and reflections" have shown that testing can "highlight an applicant’s areas of academic strength" and can help add diversity in the classroom.

It switched to a test-optional policy nearly four years ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Let’s start with what we know to be true: every standardized test is imperfect and incomplete. No exam can demonstrate every student’s college readiness or perfectly predict future performance," Yale officials said in a news release. "Yale has not, does not, and will never rely on testing alone to assess student preparedness."

The change will be required for all first-year applicants beginning in the fall of 2025. It will also allow prospective students to include Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam scores in place of the ACT or SAT, Yale said.

Earlier this month, another Ivy League school, Dartmouth College, announced a similar change to its policy. Beginning with the undergraduate class of 2029, standardized test scores would again be required.

Dartmouth said a study commissioned by university President Sian Beilock and conducted by university economists and an educational sociologist found that standardized test scores, when evaluated alongside high school grades, were "the most reliable indicators for success in Dartmouth’s course of study."

Yale acknowledged that reviewing applications without ACT or SAT scores was a "positive experience," but found that it worked to the disadvantage of prospective students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Because testing had been removed, a greater weight was placed on other parts of the application such as rigorous high school courses and extracurricular activities that were "full of enrichment opportunities."

The institution said that students attending well-resourced high schools readily have access to such activities and advanced classes. Teachers at these schools are also more "accustomed to praising students’ unique classroom contributions," Yale said.

Students at high schools with fewer resources don't have as many opportunities to take advanced courses, Yale said, and "teachers with large classes may use positive but generic words of praise in recommendation letters."

"Students’ out-of-school commitments may include activities that demonstrate extraordinary leadership and contributions to family and community but reveal nothing about their academic preparedness," the school said. "With no test scores to supplement these components, applications from students attending these schools may leave admissions officers with scant evidence of their readiness for Yale."

Standardized test score requirements have long been criticized for favoring wealthy, white applicants and putting minority and low-income students at a disadvantage.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commonly known as MIT, said in March 2022, it was reinstating test-score requirements in an effort to be “transparent and equitable in our expectations.” Columbia University in New York City, however, said in March that it would not require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. It is believed to be the first Ivy League school to adopt the policy permanently, according to NBC New York.