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Monday, January 24, 2022

Harvard won’t require SAT or ACT for another 5 years

Harvard University will extend the move to not require SAT or ACT scores for prospective students until at least 2026, the university announced Thursday.

The Ivy League school initially stopped requiring tests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that some applicants had limited access to testing sites.

The expansion was also linked to the pandemic “and its continuing impact on access to testing for high school students.”

“Students who fail to submit standard test scores will not be prejudiced upon applying,” William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Assistance, said in a statement.

“Their applications will be considered based on what they have submitted and they are encouraged to submit any submissions they think will reflect their high school achievements and their future prospects,” he added.

Standardized testing is often a key component of what colleges analyze when making a student enrollment decision.

If a candidate does not meet a certain threshold on tests, they are historically rejected without considering other parts of their resume.

But schools are increasingly ditching these requirements, including all California public universities, with some adjustments before the pandemic began.

Columbia and Cornell Universities are among those that have made testing for applicants optional until 2024.

More than 1,815 other colleges do not require ACT or SAT scores, according to FairTest, a group that says it seeks to “end abuses and deficiencies in testing practice” that hinder the advancement of quality education and equal opportunity.

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“The main reason for the rapid growth of ACT / SAT-optional and test-blind policies is their effectiveness,” FairTest CEO Bob Schaeffer said in a recent statement.

“Schools that did not require standardized exam scores for admission in fall 2021 — current first-year undergraduate students — tended to receive more applicants, higher academic qualifications, and more diverse groups of applicants,” he added. “Given these positive results, there is no reasonable reason for re-establishing test score requirements.”

Proponents of preserving testing requirements say it’s a good way to predict how prospective students will perform if they are allowed admission.

The assessments “help predict important aspects of student achievement,” the working group said when reviewing California’s proposal to waive the requirement.

Harvard also announced Thursday that it has admitted 740 students out of 9,406 applicants. This happened a year after the school selected 743 students out of 10,087 who applied.

To follow

Zachary Stieber covers US news and articles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He lives in Maryland.

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