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Harvard to Reinstate SAT Testing Following Ivy League Peers

Harvard to Reinstate SAT Testing Following Ivy League Peers


Harvard University plans to reinstate the SAT or ACT as requirements for admission, following some of its Ivy League peers in returning to standardized test scores after a pause that was prompted by the pandemic.

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The new policy will apply to students seeking admission in fall 2025, Harvard said in a statement Thursday, backtracking from an earlier decision to make testing optional for several more years.

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Harvard’s change underscores a broader rethinking about standardized tests at elite schools, which are evaluating the best ways to recruit students from all backgrounds after the Supreme Court ruling last June that they can’t consider race in admissions. Dartmouth, Yale and Brown all said recently that they would bring back testing, saying it can give admissions officers greater context about whether less-privileged applicants are likely to succeed at the schools.

“Fundamentally, we know that talent is universal, but opportunity is not,” Hopi Hoekstra, dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said in the statement. “With this change, we hope to strengthen our ability to identify these promising students, and to give Harvard the opportunity to support their development as thinkers and leaders who will contribute to shaping our world.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard’s neighbor in Cambridge, restored test requirements two years ago. The University of Pennsylvania retained its test-optional policy for the next year. 

Testing opponents have long argued that the requirement favors wealthier students who can afford tutoring and preparation courses. Prestigious colleges started to bypass testing when it became impractical at the height of the pandemic as test centers closed. 

Since then, however, some of the most elite US schools have grown concerned that not using tests made it harder to identify talented students from less privileged backgrounds. A report last year from Harvard professors including economist Raj Chetty found that standardized tests were important in identifying those students.

“SAT/ACT scores and academic credentials are highly predictive of post-college success,” they said in the study. 

The Harvard Crimson first reported the school’s decision on testing.

Harvard, the oldest and richest US college, said in a statement that test scores are considered along with other information about an applicant’s experiences, skills, talents, and contributions to their communities. The school also assesses academic qualifications relative to students at applicants’ high schools. Yale said when it reinstated testing that scores can help establish a student’s academic preparedness for college-level work.

Yale, MIT and Harvard are among the schools stepping up efforts to recruit students from rural backgrounds who haven’t typically applied to elite colleges. Having a test score lets colleges know more context about an applicant compared to peers from their high school. Harvard said in December that students from rural communities and small towns made up 10% of those accepted to date. 

Harvard is bringing back testing requirements while grappling with changes in the recruitment landscape. The school said last month that 54,008 students sought admission for next fall’s freshman class. It was the second consecutive year that undergraduate applications declined. They’ve dropped from 61,220 two years ago, a spike that was helped by scrapping the testing requirements.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.



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