They are dropping like flies. Dartmouth College has scrapped the SAT / ACT requirement for applicants to its Class of 2025. In fact, Dartmouth has gone ahead and scrapped all testing requirements for applicants to its Class of 2025. Under the school’s new policy, students can submit SAT or ACT scores. They can submit SAT Subject Test scores. They can submit AP scores. But they won’t be required to submit any of these scores. Testing? Who needs it!
Dartmouth Dean Insists ‘Optional’ Is Not a Trick Word
As Dartmouth’s Dean of Admissions Lee Coffin writes in a blog post on the Dartmouth Admissions site, “‘Optional’ is not a trick word. It is not a wink that signals a continued institutional preference for the upcoming admissions cycle. This is not a moment for euphemisms or gimmicks; there should be no parsing of intent with this amended testing policy. It is a clear response to an unprecedented moment that requires admission officers to reimagine some of the elements we have historically required as we reassure anxious students about their upcoming applications. Worries about oversubscribed test sites, anxiety regarding limited registration access and the incongruity of test prep during a quarantine can be set aside. At Dartmouth, we will welcome any testing element a student chooses to share—the SAT, the ACT, a subject test, an AP score—or none at all. Our admission committee will review each candidacy without second-guessing the omission or presence of a testing element. We strongly advise students to focus on the many holistic elements of the application that showcase academic excellence in a more qualitative way.”
If It Weren’t a Trick Word, Dartmouth Should Forbid the Submission of Test Scores
And that’s all well and nice. It makes for a nice blog post by Dean Coffin. It encourages more students to apply to the College on the Hill. But, as loyal readers of our college admissions blog know so well, we don’t take admissions officers at their word. Not when these same admissions officers so often claim to be need-blind and yet ask applicants — on the very applications admissions officers are privy to — whether or not they need financial aid. Admissions officers shouldn’t tell us that test scores won’t matter this coming year. Rather, they should show us. In our view, test-optional policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on as these schools will still — in spite of their lofty words — favor students who submit top scores. MIT has forbid the submission of SAT Subject Test. Yale has forbid the submission of SAT Subject Tests this coming year. And, most famously, the University of California system will phase out the SAT and ACT, switching from a newly instated test-optional policy for the Classes of 2025 and 2026 to a don’t-you-send-your-scores-to us policy for the Classes of 2027 and 2028. So until Dartmouth forbids the submission of such scores, this news goes in our ears and out the other ears.
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