Why Students Still Need to Take the SAT and ACT Even Though Some Colleges Temporarily Drop the Requirement

During the past few weeks, Cornell University, along with a number of other top-tier colleges and universities, announced that students applying to Cornell this year will not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their admissions applications. This follows similar announcements made during the past few weeks by other universities and colleges including Amherst College, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Hamilton College, Swarthmore College, Vassar College, Scripps College, Swarthmore College, and the entire University of California system.

Even though some colleges are waiving the SAT/ACT requirement, SAT/ACT scores are still meaningful differentiators

In a statement, Cornell explained that it did not want to penalize students who, because of pandemic-related test cancellations and economic difficulties, find taking the tests inconvenient or impossible.

But before you kick off your shoes and breathe a sigh of relief, read the fine print. Certainly, Cornell is not going to penalize anyone who, because of COVID-19 (aka coronavirus), is not able to take the SAT or ACT. But that doesn’t mean that your SAT and ACT test scores—if submitted—are negligible. In fact, according a recent article in the Cornell Daily Sun,  “Despite waiving the [SAT/ACT] requirement, the undergraduate admissions office … said that standardized test scores could still be a ‘meaningful differentiator’ for students who live near or attend a school that will offer more testing this year or if students have not experienced a significant loss in income.”

What does this all boil down to? Even if the colleges and universities that you want to apply to waive the SAT and ACT requirement this year, you’re going to have a better chance of being admitted if you do submit your test scores.

Sorry; I know this is not a happy ending blog post. ):

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About The Author

Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.