In response to the pandemic, various universities approved a Test-Optional Policy to accommodate students who were unable to access testing centers.
Columbia University implemented this policy from 2020-21 until the 2023-24 admissions cycle. This month they decided to permanently adopt this change, making Columbia University the first Ivy League School to have a permanent Test-Optional Policy. This means that students applying to Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering will no longer be required to submit their standardized test scores.
In an announcement on their website, they stated: "We have designed our application to afford the greatest possible opportunity and flexibility for students to represent themselves fully and showcase their academic talents, interests, and goals. Standardized testing is not a required component of our application."
Ivy League Schools Changing Standardized Testing Policies Over Time
Other Ivy League universities have implemented similar policies during the pandemic years.
Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania applied a test-optional policy for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Earlier this year, the University of Pennsylvania announced that it will extend the test-optional policy to 2023-24 applications.
Cornell University has not required standardized test scores since the year of 2020, and is extending theirs until the 2024-25 academic year.
Harvard and Princeton, on the other hand, have extended theirs until the 2025-26 academic year. As for Dartmouth, Brown, and Yale, they have yet to announced whether they are extending their test-optional policies for the upcoming application cycle.
In addition to the Ivy League schools, many institutions such as Stanford University, Northwestern University, and Boston University have announced that they will also continue to apply the test-optional policy to the 2024 class.
Colleges Requiring Standardized Test Scores
Despite Columbia's new policy, 43% of applicants still submitted SAT scores, and 28% submitted ACT scores.
It would seem that the “test-optional” trend has not affected many applicants. As such, there are certain colleges that have chosen to revert back to the status quo by requiring test score submissions again.
Last March, MIT announced the resumption of standardized test requirements in the admissions process which means all applicants are required to submit their SAT/ACT scores.
Purdue University will also officially resume this application requirement in the next application season.
Georgia Institute of Technology, a popular science and engineering university, also follows suit in response to the unified requirements of the University System of Georgia.
In addition, Georgetown University, a top university in Washington, D.C., has also reinstated the SAT/ACT requirement.
For students who are unable to take the test due to the impact of the pandemic, these universities still encourage students to apply, but at the same time, they need to explain the reasons for their inability to take the test.
Latest Testing Policies from Top 70 US Universities
The test-optional policy movement may be gaining stride, however, in order for applicants to have a diverse set of choices, it is still a safe bet to undergo standardized testing. Another good strategy in lieu of submitting test scores is to balance out your application by focusing on other areas that showcase your strength as an applicant. One way or another, students and their families can consult planning and guidance along the way.