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SAT and ACT will be optional at Ivy League schools

SAT and ACT will be optional at Ivy League schools

SAT and ACT will be optional at Ivy League schools
July 10
10:30 2020

High school graduates applying to college typically have to take either the SAT or ACT in order to meet admission requirements. However, the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily altered that stipulation for many colleges, including all eight Ivy League schools.

Coronavirus has made it difficult and in some cases not possible for students to take or retake the SAT or ACT,  and because of that, the Ivy League schools have made the SAT/ACT test-optional. This change is currently only valid for prospective students who will graduate from high school in 2021.

Ivy League schools are known for having highly selective admission processes, which causes their acceptance rates to be very low. The school with the lowest overall acceptance rate for the class of 2020 was Harvard University at 5.2 percent, the highest is Cornell University at 14.1 percent. It is clear applicants must be competitive in order to be admitted.  

Students spend a lot of time and energy making sure they will stand out among the thousands of other students they are competing with. Some start preparing as early as 9th grade, making sure they have a good GPA, involving themselves in extracurricular activities and doing community service. Others have even gone as far as hiring independent college consultants to increase their chances of getting admitted.  

Scoring high on the SAT or ACT could be looked at as the final step in making sure their application is as close to perfect as possible and sets them apart. Now that these tests are optional or waivable, what could that mean for applicants? Will this be beneficial for students seeking to get into some of the most well-known and desirable schools in the world?

It’s hard to say.

The SAT and ACT have received criticism over the years for not being a fair test and some have argued there is a gap between demographics and test scores. An analysis done by FairTest shows that students who come from underprivileged families do not do as well on the tests as students from privileged families. Specifically, in regard to the SAT. The gap grew even larger for high school seniors between 2018 and 2019.

If not having to submit a standardized test score could allow the opportunity for a more diverse group of students admission into Ivy League schools, the test-optional choice would prove beneficial for students. 

Although none of the eight Ivy League schools have suggested students will be disadvantaged due to not having test scores, there may be one exception to consider, at least for a few of these colleges.

This exception would be for student-athletes. Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania both mentioned how student-athletes looking to be recruited to their schools have to take the SAT or ACT in order to be in line with the Ivy League policy. For those that did not test, this could be upsetting and hard to come to terms with, especially if you did everything else you were supposed to do. 

It’s been a hard year for students everywhere. Changes to how educational matters are currently being handled have yielded both positive and negative results. Only once this has passed will we be able to see what the effects were for the SAT and ACT is optional at Ivy League colleges for the college class of 2025.

Featured Illustration: Srinidhi Shukla

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Alexandria Northington

Alexandria Northington

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