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Harvard reinstates SAT requirement, joining other elite schools

Harvard University on Thursday announced it will require the SAT or a similar standardized test score as part of its admissions application, becoming the latest Ivy League institution to do so in recent months.

The requirement reverses its test-optional policy and will start with applicants for fall 2025, mandating submission of SAT or ACT scores in the vast majority of cases, Harvard Magazine reported.

The move follows three Ivy League schools — Yale, Brown and Dartmouth — that made the same announcement in recent months. The University of Texas at Austin also did so in March, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reinstated the requirement in 2022.

As The College Fix previously reported, university leaders stated they have found that a student’s future academic success can be measured most accurately with the presence of standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT entrance exams. They have also argued that requiring the test actually improves student body diversity.

“Indeed, when students have the option of not submitting their test scores, they may choose to withhold information that, when interpreted by the admissions committee in the context of the local norms of their school, could have potentially helped their application,” Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi Hoekstra said in a message to the campus community, Harvard Magazine reported.

In short,” she continued, “more information, especially such strongly predictive information, is valuable for identifying talent from across the socioeconomic range.”

The Harvard Crimson student newspaper described the decision as a “surprise reversal that could leave some students scrambling to take SAT or ACT tests ahead of application deadlines in the fall.”

The Crimson reported:

The decision comes in the face of Harvard’s previous commitments to remain test-optional through the admitted Class of 2030, a policy that was first instituted during the pandemic. … The majority of undergraduates entering Harvard in the past four years have submitted standardized test scores, according to the release, which did not specify an exact percentage. …

The Generational African American Students Association, a student organization at Harvard, posted a statement on Instagram Thursday afternoon blasting the College’s return to required testing.

The policy change “strikes at the very heart of the progress made toward achieving true equal opportunity within higher education institutions such as Harvard,” the group wrote.

“This decision also compounds the challenges already faced by low-income and minority students in the wake of affirmative action being overruled,” they added.

A College spokesperson declined to comment on the criticism of the policy reversal.

Harvard’s reversal of its commitment to stay test-optional through the next two admissions cycles came with little warning to applicants for the Class of 2029, who have six sittings of the ACT and the SAT left before Harvard’s regular decision application deadline on Jan. 1 — and even fewer before its early action deadline of Nov. 1.

Other elite colleges, in reinstating the SAT, have also said it helps diversity.

Dartmouth, when it announced in February its decision, stated: “Contrary to what some have perceived, standardized testing allows us to admit a broader and more diverse range of students. Contextually strong testing clearly enhances the admission chances of high-achieving applicants from less-resourced backgrounds when such scores are disclosed.”

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