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Colleges are ditching required admission tests over covid-19. Will they ever go back?

gibbygibby 10537 replies248 threads Senior Member
On Friday, Yale and Brown universities announced they would not require test scores from applicants for fall 2021. That echoed earlier one-year test-optional declarations from the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell and Columbia universities, and Dartmouth College.

As of Friday afternoon, Harvard and Princeton universities were the lone Ivy holdouts.
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Replies to: Colleges are ditching required admission tests over covid-19. Will they ever go back?

  • jzducoljzducol 811 replies15 threads Member
    Its most ironic that SAT was initially used in college admissions as a tool, first by Harvard and then by all other elite schools, to identify poor yet talented kids who were outside of the privileged prep schools, and now being perceived as an obstacle to these same kids' success in college admissions.

    Originally designed by a Princeton psychologist and first used by Harvard College SAT has a long tradition in those schools. I think the admissions offered a sensible approach in waiving the requirement in extenuating circumstances due to Covid-19. But making SAT/ACT optional would undermine a process that has made Harvard College a success over the years. The former College dean, Harry Lewis, who still sits on admissions committee, along with his wife who is the admissions director, had this to say in his college admission report back in 2000:
    ..More significant than the mere number of qualified applicants is the proportion of the most talented secondary school students in America who now apply to Harvard. For example, to consider the simplest objective measure of potential academic talent, of the 541 secondary school students nationally who scored a perfect 800-800 on the SAT I test, 64% applied to be members of the Harvard class of '04. .

    Apparently (and fortunately), at Harvard admissions, there are still people who care about excellence in standardized tests.
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  • compmomcompmom 11731 replies81 threads Senior Member
    edited June 16
    Harvard just announced they will not be requiring SAT or ACT scores for 2021 applicants. There is an article today in the Boston Globe.

    The issue is accessing test sites for those without transportation, and also access to adequate guidance.

    Many schools were test-optional before COVID, including some top schools https://www.fairtest.org/university/optional. However, they generally want scores for merit aid.

    Harvard doesn't offer merit aid. I imagine it will go back to requiring scores if/when COVID resolves.

    Harvard has the admissions staff to do holistic admissions. Many large state universitites don't and they may still want scores.

    In my mind, essays and extracurriculars are influenced as much by socioeconomic status as standardized tests, but COVID is affecting EC's for everyone, and access to testing sites really seems to be the motivator here, not permanent efforts to address bias in testing.
    edited June 16
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  • xmasberryxmasberry 35 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I think standardized tests will stay around. I feel like many colleges will permanently go test-optional to make it fair to students who may not have the ability to take the test. Standardized tests are also not the best gauge of a student’s college ability, as many people are bad test takers (on the ACT/SAT) but still receive great grades in high school.

    It wouldn’t be fair, however, to students who do want to go the extra mile to take tests and essentially “prove” to colleges that they do fit there.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43221 replies471 threads Senior Member
    edited June 23
    At large public universities that don't have time to review applications, they'll still be used as a proxy for basic knowledge but could be replaced with something else that has the same impact.
    Now for merit aid it's going to be another ballgame.
    edited June 23
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