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Penn yet to announce whether it will reinstate standardized testing requirement, unlike other Ivies

Penn has yet to announce whether it will reinstate its standardized testing requirement for the 2024-25 admissions cycle, a spokesperson told The Daily Pennsylvanian — unlike other Ivy League schools.

Earlier this month, Dartmouth College removed its test-optional policy and returned to requiring standardized test scores for the incoming Class of 2029 and beyond. Penn has not yet made any public statements on whether standardized tests will be required in the 2024-25 cycle.

Penn’s test-optional policy was first implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-21 admissions cycle — at which point the University stated that students without testing “will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process.” The test-optional policy has been extended every cycle since.

Dartmouth’s announcement reimplementing testing cited a faculty study that showed that the test scores helped identify high-achieving students, regardless of students’ backgrounds or family income levels.

Ivy League universities have expressed differing philosophies on the testing requirement — with several, such as Dartmouth, already announcing their policies for the next several admissions cycles.

Yale University is currently considering reinstating its standardized testing requirement for admissions, according to Forbes. Columbia University announced last year that it would go permanently test-optional, and Harvard University — in 2021 — decided to extend its test-optional admissions policy through the Class of 2030’s admissions cycle, which includes two more years. 

However, Brian Taylor, the managing partner of college counseling service Ivy Coach, told the DP that he believes these universities will eventually return to requiring test scores. He suggested that it is in Penn’s best interest to reinstate test scores — referencing Dartmouth’s data analysis.

“If you’re an underrepresented minority applicant, and you have a 1450 [SAT score], that can very much help you at Dartmouth, even if it’s going to pull their mean down,” Taylor said. 

Taylor explained that the decision on whether to submit test scores to a school is not as simple as whether it is above or below the mean. He cited Dartmouth admissions officers finding that some lower-income students chose to withhold their test scores in cases where they would have served as a “positive signal” to admissions. 

Taylor disagreed with leaders in admissions at various schools who have suggested over the past few years that students who did not submit test scores were placed on equal footing. He called the idea “baloney” that a student with a great test score had no advantage over one without a test score.

“All else being equal, students with great test scores will always have an advantage over students with no test scores,” he said. 

“Over the years, students and parents have started to realize — oh wait, admissions officers weren’t really telling it like it is,” Taylor said. “Those test scores did matter. Yeah, sure, you can get in without scores, but you’re at a significant disadvantage.”

Taylor explained that he would expect the number of applicants to decrease if Penn did reinstate the testing requirement since many of what he called “squeakers” — students who believed they could get into top schools without submitting test scores — were applying to more schools because of the changed policy.

While Penn does not immediately disclose the acceptance rate for its applicants, the application cycle for the Class of 2027 featured an acceptance rate of 5.8% — a decrease from the acceptance rate of 6.5% for the Class of 2026.

Several students who did not submit their standardized test scores said that they believe that submitting their scores would have weakened their chances of admission — and that they may not have applied if a testing requirement was in place.

College sophomore Emily Roberts explained that — when she applied to Penn — she chose not to submit her standardized test scores because they were below the mean, yet probably still would have applied even if they were required. 

In contrast, Nursing sophomore Maria Tran — who said that her high school GPA was outstanding in comparison to her standardized test scores — said that she would not have applied to Penn if the school required test scores at the time, believing that her chance at getting in would have been “zero.”

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