Standardized Test Policies for Top Colleges During The 2020-2021 Application Cycle
In an unprecedented move, 20 of the top colleges in the country have instituted test-optional policies for students applying in the 2020-2021 admission cycle. Of those 20, four are Ivy League universities: University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, and Cornell University.
A growing number of colleges are waiving the SAT/ACT requirement for students applying this year
Changes to the standardized testing requirements are a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic which forced the cancellation of multiple test dates this spring.
The Ivy League universities mentioned above join more than 1,240 others that have adopted test-optional or test flexible policies, as reported by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing.
However, applicants should note that test-optional does not necessarily mean test-blind. Unless colleges explicitly state that they will not consider test scores, they will continue to consider submitted scores.
What’s the logic behind adopting test-optional policies? Colleges do not want to penalize students who did not register to take the tests before the COVID shut down. On the other hand, the new standardized test policies help admissions officers single out students who planned and prepared for university admission early in their high school careers. In many admissions offices, a student’s decision to take the SAT or ACT early and often registers interest and determination. Omitting test scores on a college application to a competitive school indicates a failure to prep.
In order to help you strategize your application, here are standardized testing policies for 20 elite colleges, including statements from the schools’ websites:
“ACT or SAT test scores are a required component of the Stanford application. We are not adopting a test-optional policy, and students will be expected to submit scores in the 2020–21 application. In the future, if test sittings continue to be impacted, and students are prevented from taking the test due to COVID-19, then we will consider their application without those test results. If this becomes the case, we will post an update.”
“Specifically, you will not be at a disadvantage if you are unable to submit AP or Subject Test scores (these scores are not required for Stanford’s application). Similarly, you will not be at a disadvantage if your school adopts a pass/fail grading policy.”
Yale has suspended the SAT/ACT requirement for those applying to become members of the Class of 2025.
“In response to the global health crisis and the cancellation of several test administrations, the Admissions Committee will not consider SAT Subject Tests for first-year applicants during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle (Class of 2025).”
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“We will continue to require the SAT or the ACT, because our research has shown these tests, in combination with a student’s high school grades and coursework, are predictive of success in our challenging curriculum. While we know these tests are not perfect, they do provide an informative and consistent measure of a student’s academic potential in a world where high school experiences vary so widely, and they allow us to admit students from across the country — and the globe — who we are confident will thrive and succeed at MIT.”
“We think it would be unfair to consider scores only from those who have scored well and therefore choose to send them to us. They are neither recommended nor optional; they are simply not a part of our process anymore.”
Princeton, citing “unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19” has “paused” the SAT/ACT requirement for students applying to become members of the Class of 2025.
“While our policy has long been that SAT subject tests are recommended but not required, now seems the appropriate time to reiterate that applicants who do not submit subject tests will not be disadvantaged in our process.”
University of Pennsylvania
“In response to COVID-19, Penn will not require applicants to submit the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests for the 2020-21 application cycle. This applies to first-year and transfer applicants. Applicants who do not submit SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Test scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process.”
“We recognize that standardized test schedules have been affected, and we fully appreciate that this has raised concerns for students. At this time, our advice is that students should do their best to prepare for the SAT or ACT — students should not feel pressure to take the test multiple times. The College Board and ACT are working to provide testing options for the fall. At Brown, we will continue to monitor the availability of these tests and adjust our policies accordingly.”
“Beginning with the Class of 2025, Brown will no longer recommend the submission of SAT Subject Tests. If submitted, Subject Tests will be considered as part of your application. Students who have not taken the Subject Tests will be at no disadvantage in Brown’s admission process.”
California Institute of Technology
“As of June 2020, Caltech has enacted a two-year moratorium on both the requirement and consideration of SAT and/or ACT test scores as part of the undergraduate admissions process. This change, made in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on access to these exams for students across the country and globe, will be in effect for all first-year students applying to Caltech for Fall 2021 and Fall 2022.”
“As of January 2020, Caltech eliminated the requirement for applicants to submit two SAT Subject Tests. These sections will not be considered in the application review process. This change is in effect for those students applying for the Caltech class that begins in the fall of 2021.”
“For students applying in 2020-2021, we understand that students may have limited opportunities to take the SAT or ACT. We will continue to review our testing policy as we see what opportunities students have this summer and fall to take the tests.”
“We do not require Subject Tests.”
“Effective immediately, Dartmouth College is enacting a one-year suspension of our standardized testing requirement for candidates seeking undergraduate admission. Dartmouth College is now test optional for the Class of 2025.”
“At Dartmouth, we will welcome any testing element a student chooses to share—the SAT, the ACT, a subject test, an AP score—or none at all. Our admission committee will review each candidacy without second-guessing the omission or presence of a testing element.”
“The SARS-COV-2 pandemic emergency has led to many SAT and ACT administration cancellations. Due to this extraordinary circumstance, students seeking to enroll at Cornell University beginning in August 2021 can submit their applications without including the results from ACT or SAT exams. This will be true for both the Early Decision and Regular Decision rounds of review.”
- Agriculture and Life Sciences: SAT Subject Tests not required
- Architecture, Art, and Planning: SAT Subject Tests not required
- Arts and Sciences: SAT Subject Tests not required
- Cornell SC Johnson College of Business—Applied Economics and Management: SAT Subject Tests not required
- Cornell SC Johnson College of Business—Hotel Administration: SAT Subject Tests not required
- Engineering: SAT Subject Tests are not required and will not be considered during the 2020 or 2021 admission cycles
- Human Ecology: SAT Subject Tests not required
- Industrial and Labor Relations: SAT Subject Tests not required
“For first-year and transfer applicants for admission for Fall 2021 entry, Pomona College has adopted a test-optional policy. This one-year policy means SAT or ACT scores are not required for applicants for first-year admission, but students may still choose to self-report them on their applications.”
University of California, Berkeley
“Campuses will have the option to use ACT/SAT test scores in selection consideration if applicants choose to submit them, and will develop appropriate policies and procedures to implement the Board’s decision.”
“College of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Math Level 2 and a science test (Biology E/M, Chemistry, or Physics) closely related to the applicant’s intended major.”
“Due to ongoing standardized testing disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia is adopting a one year test-optional policy for first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for the fall of 2021.
If students have completed testing and can submit SAT or ACT results, we encourage them to do so as we believe this information can be a valuable addition in our review process. However, testing is no longer a required component for the first-year 2020-2021 application cycle, and students who are unable or choose not to submit test scores will not be disadvantaged.”
“Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), SAT Subject Test and other proficiency exam scores are not required, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them.”
“Georgetown will continue to require submission of either the SAT or ACT for all first-year applicants.”
“Submission of three SAT Subject tests is recommended but not required. While Subject tests are a valued portion of our holistic admissions review process, these tests should not create a barrier for applicants. The Committee on Admissions considers all facets of student achievement and within the context of each applicant’s experience, location, and environment.”
University of Chicago
“Some applicants may feel that an SAT or ACT score does not fully reflect their academic preparedness or potential. If this is the case for you, you may select UChicago’s test-optional method of application and not supply SAT or ACT scores with your application. We welcome any student regardless of testing plan to submit additional materials (detailed in the Supplements section) that they feel best highlights their skills, talents, and potential contributions to UChicago.”
“Regardless of what other test scores you may be submitting, SAT Subject Tests scores are entirely optional, and not sending Subject Test scores will not hurt your application.”
“We recognize that canceled test dates raise concern among students who have been hard at work preparing for them. But the College Board and ACT appear committed to providing future testing opportunities as soon as possible, including free statewide tests where applicable, and at this point there is still time for students to test before next year’s application deadlines. Both testing organizations have indicated that they will add test dates and introduce remote testing options should the need arise. (Note that subject tests are optional in our application process, and rest assured that there is no “wink” implied by the term optional—you can take that word at face value.) We will of course be monitoring the situation closely and will provide additional guidance about standardized testing if necessary.”
“While SAT Subject Tests are optional for most undergraduate applicants, scores from SAT Subject Tests are required for applicants to the Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME), the Integrated Science Program (ISP) and applicants who have been home-schooled.”
University of Notre Dame
“Students applying as first years or transfers during the 2020-2021 admission cycle have the option of applying under a test-optional policy. This change has been instituted for next year only, in response to the extraordinary challenges facing all of us during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“No, Williams doesn’t require SAT subject tests.”
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
“At this time test optional is not an alternative. The College Board and ACT are working to provide viable alternatives for students. We will keep you posted if and when more information is provided.”
“No, we do not require SAT Subject tests for admission unless you have been home-schooled. If you include these test results as part of your application and you have not been/are not being home-schooled, we will consider the scores only in light of how they might benefit your review. You will not be penalized for low SAT subject test scores since they are not a required component of a complete application.”
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