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The Ivy Coach Daily

January 30, 2021

Elite Universities Going Test-Optional for 2021-2022 Admissions Cycle

UPenn, Cornell, and Columbia have extended their testing policies.

This past admissions cycle, our nation’s highly selective universities went test-optional due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a historic turn of events, these schools didn’t require applicants to submit SAT / ACT scores or the now defunct SAT Subject Tests. It’s all led current juniors and their parents to wonder…will these schools be test-optional next year for applicants to the Class of 2026? Our loyal readers may remember that when these schools shifted to test-optional, we forecasted they would be unlikely to ever return to requiring the submission of test scores. These months later, we stand by our forecast. We also stand by our assertion that, all else being equal, a student with a great score has an advantage over a student with no score — whether the university claims otherwise or not. And, today, we write with an update to our readers about next year’s testing policies at elite universities. So will these schools be test-optional for applicants to the Class of 2026?

UPenn, Columbia, Cornell Have Already Extended Test-Optional Policies for Next Year

It’s looking that way, yes! What a time to be alive! The University of Pennsylvania announced this week that the school will be extending its test-optional policy through next year. As the admissions office, under new leadership, writes on its site, “Due to COVID-19 and the ongoing disruptions to standardized testing, Penn is extending our test-optional policy through the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. This change will be in effect immediately for all first-year and transfer applicants.” And UPenn isn’t alone. Columbia University extended its test-optional policy for one year: As Columbia’s admissions office states on its website, “In response to continued disruptions to standardized testing availability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Columbia is extending our test-optional policy for one year, effective for first-year applicants to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering for the fall of 2022.” Cornell University will also be test-optional for the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Human Ecology, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Cornell will be score-free at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Architecture, Art, & Planning, the SC Johnson College of Business – Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the SC Johnson College of Business – School of Hotel Administration.

Other Ivy League Schools Will Soon Follow Their Lead

We know the question swirling through your heads. Your question is: “Ivy Coach, do you anticipate that the other Ivy League institutions will follow the lead of UPenn, Columbia, and Cornell?” Yes, absolutely. In fact, we don’t even need to consult Ivy Coach’s famously accurate crystal ball to tell you that we anticipate each and every Ivy League university will not require test scores for applicants to the Class of 2026. Look for them to announce these policies in the weeks to come. So do stay tuned to our announcements. Oh, and we know your followup question, too: “Ivy Coach, should applicants still submit test scores if they can?” Come on, people. Do you know us at all? Test-optional policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Take those tests! We’re shaking our heads.

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