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Yale University reinstates standardized test requirement

Published 02/22/2024, 12:08 PM
Updated 02/22/2024, 12:11 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lawrance Hall is shown at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S., September 27, 2018.  REUTERS/Gabriella Borter

By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) - Yale University said on Thursday it would reinstate a requirement that applicants submit standardized test scores after a four-year hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the admissions dean said the requirement would help disadvantaged students.

Critics of standardized testing in college admissions have long pushed for schools to permanently drop the requirement, saying the tests mostly benefit students with access to expensive preparation courses, leaving disadvantaged students further behind.

Hundreds of colleges made standardized testing an optional portion of the application when COVID-19 shut down testing centers. Since then, elite schools have evaluated admissions results with and without test score submissions in an effort to create permanent policies that help them admit high-achieving, diverse classes.

Yale's admissions dean Jeremiah Quinlan said his team had analyzed admissions data from the past few years and found that test scores, in conjunction with all other parts of a student's application, gave them a better sense of whether students had excelled in their circumstances and were ready for the university's academic rigor.

"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," Quinlan said in a statement. "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."

Quinlan said students would be required to submit either an SAT or ACT score, or AP (Advanced Placement) or IB (International Baccalaureate) scores.

Debate over usefulness of standardized testing has intensified since the U.S. Supreme Court banned race-conscious admissions in 2023. College admissions teams have reexamined their remaining application criteria to ensure academically qualified students from underrepresented, disadvantaged backgrounds have a fair shot at acceptance.

Yale's decision, which will impact applicants planning to enroll in fall 2025, followed announcements from Dartmouth University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that they would reimpose standardized testing requirements.

MIT did so in 2022, saying tests were a key predictor of student success. Dartmouth announced its decision this month, after conducting a study that found standardized tests could greatly help the admissions team identify "high-achieving less-advantaged applicants."

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lawrance Hall is shown at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, U.S., September 27, 2018.  REUTERS/Gabriella Borter

Cornell and Vanderbilt Universities extended their test optional policies this month, Cornell for one year and Vanderbilt for three.

Other elite colleges are expected to announce decisions on testing policies this spring.

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