Yale University Bringing Back Standardized Test Requirement for Admissions

Bill Pan
By Bill Pan
February 26, 2024US News
Yale University is bringing back standardized testing after it was made optional during the pandemic. The university said this would increase student body diversity.

Yale University on Thursday said it will once again require prospective undergraduate students to submit their standardized test scores to be considered for admission.

Yale adopted a test-optional admissions policy in June 2020, when most colleges and universities in the United States dropped their test score requirements as widespread pandemic lockdowns forced testing locations to shut their doors.

This policy, according to the Ivy League school, created the “largest ever” applicant pools and resulted in “record numbers” of applicants who came from lower-income households and neighborhoods and would be the first in their families to get a college education.

However, Yale also acknowledged that the policy “frequently worked to the disadvantage” of those with lower-resourced backgrounds, since admissions officers would have to place greater weight on other aspects of the application, such as essays and extracurricular activities.

“Inviting students to apply without any test scores can, inadvertently, disadvantage students from low-income, first-generation, and rural backgrounds,” the university said in a statement announcing the policy shift.

Now, with testing availability fully restored, Yale is asking undergraduate applicants for the fall 2025 cycle to include their scores from at least one of four standardized tests: SAT, ACT, subject-based Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB).

These test scores serve as a strong predictor of how likely a student would find academic success at the elite college, said Jeremiah Quinlan, Yale’s dean of undergraduate admissions.

“We found that test scores have continued to predict academic performance in Yale College,” Mr. Quinlan said in an interview with Yale News, the university’s official news magazine. “Simply put, students with higher scores have been more likely to have higher Yale GPAs, and test scores are the single greatest predictor of a student’s performance in Yale courses in every model we have constructed.”

While Yale did find that students who have been admitted without test scores “have done relatively well” in their courses, it further found a “statistically significant difference” in average GPA between those who applied with and without test scores, Mr. Quinlan noted.

Responding to worries that the test score requirement would create a barrier for students of certain racial demographics, Mr. Quinlan said the actual experience shows the opposite.

“The entire admissions office staff is keenly aware of the research on the correlations between standardized test scores and household income as well as the persistent gaps by race,” he told Yale News. “Our experience, however, is that including test scores as one component of a thoughtful whole-person review process can help increase the diversity of the student body rather than decrease it.”

Thursday’s decision makes Yale the second Ivy League school to do away with the COVID-era test-optional admissions policy, following Dartmouth College. Unlike Yale, however, Dartmouth does not accept AP and IB scores to meet the testing requirements.

Both institutions are citing one particular study to back their decisions. This study, conducted by researchers at Dartmouth and Brown University, found that students who submitted ACT or SAT scores achieved better college GPAs than peers who opted not to, and that high school grades do “little to predict academic success in college.”

“Higher SAT/ACT scores are associated with higher college GPAs, even when comparing students from different socioeconomic backgrounds,” the study concluded.

Elite Colleges Mixed on COVID-Era Waivers

In the face of nationwide pandemic lockdowns, most U.S. colleges and universities suspended their testing requirements. Then, as the pandemic continued, many of them extended their policies for another year or longer.

While it initially seemed like the Ivy League would soon return to requiring test scores, Harvard University first extended its test-optional admissions policy for applicants through the class of 2030. The University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Brown University have all waived testing requirements through the 2023–2024 admissions cycles. Cornell University has extended its test-optional policy to fall 2025 applicants.

In March 2023, Columbia University became the first Ivy League school to permanently waive the testing requirement.

The past years have also seen a revival of test score requirements at several prestigious institutions, notably Georgetown University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Stuart Schmill, MIT’s dean of admissions and student financial services, said in 2022 that taking SAT and ACT scores into consideration—especially math scores—”significantly improves” the school’s ability to accurately predict whether a student can do well at MIT.

While MIT’s admission officials can’t explain exactly why those scores are so predictive of a student’s academic performance, they believe it is likely because of the school’s heavy emphasis on math. All MIT students, regardless of intended major, must complete a series of very demanding math and math-based science courses and pass long, challenging exams in order to advance.

For example, an economics degree at MIT requires at least one course in econometrics, and a philosophy degree at MIT usually entails courses in set theory, modal logic, paradox, and infinity.

“In other words, there is no path through MIT that does not rest on a rigorous foundation in mathematics, and we need to be sure our students are ready for that as soon as they arrive,” Mr. Schmill said.

From The Epoch Times

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