The Ivy Coach Daily

April 23, 2020

Elite Schools Still Want Test Scores

Princeton University still requires students to submit an SAT or ACT (photo credit: Alfred Hutter).

In a Wall Street Journal article about Cornell University’s decision to go test-optional for the Class of 2025, journalist Melissa Korn writes, “Some other Ivy League schools, including Princeton and Brown universities, have informed current high school juniors that they don’t expect students to take the ACT or SAT multiple times, given the limited testing dates now available.” But as our nation’s elite colleges — including Princeton and Brown — so often don’t tell it like it is, we figured we’d offer our own translation of what these words should mean to applicants to the Class of 2025. So how should these words be interpreted, you ask?

Even Temporarily Test-Optional Cornell Still Loves Top Scores

Princeton, Brown, and all of our nation’s elite colleges still love to see top scores on the SAT or ACT. Heck, even Cornell — which announced it was going temporarily test-optional in light of test cancelations and the announcements by College Board and ACT that they were preparing take-home exams for the fall — still wants to see top scores. As Cornell’s admissions office so states, “In Cornell’s review during the 2020-2021 application cycle, results from the ACT or SAT might still be a meaningful differentiator in particular for students who: live near or attend a school that will be open, and where testing will be offered, or who live near a testing center that will be offering more testing seats or dates than they did in 2019; and have not experienced lost income for one or more of their household providers or other significant new hardships and losses during 2020.”

Princeton and Brown Expect Top Scores in Few Sittings

Yes, Princeton and Brown can’t expect students to sit and take the SAT or ACT as many times as students typically do but what Ms. Korn doesn’t mention is that Princeton and Brown don’t expect students to have to take the SAT or ACT many times in order to get a top score. No, Princeton and Brown expect students to get a top score on one sitting. So why should students need multiple sittings? Of course, Princeton and Brown won’t say this — that would be too forthright. But know that elite colleges, including the likes of Princeton and Brown, don’t want to see students taking the SAT or ACT so many times. Rather, they want to see that these tests come easily to students. They want to see that students can ace the test in just one try. In short, Princeton and Brown are telling it like it is: they don’t expect students to take the SAT or ACT multiple times this year. No. But what goes unsaid is that they expect them to ace it on their one try!

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