Harvard Extends Test-Optional Admissions Policy

Harvard has extended its test-optional admissions policy (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Over the nearly 30 years in which we’ve been reporting on elite college admissions, there have been many trends. Colleges doing away with legacy admissions. Colleges switching to virtual tours and information sessions due to the pandemic. Colleges delaying the reporting of admissions statistics. But one trend has remained a constant over the last near 30 years: where Harvard University goes, the rest tend to follow. Recently, Harvard announced that the school would be extending its test-optional admissions policy, a policy first enacted in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, through the next four years. Applicants to the Classes of 2027, 2028, 2029, and 2030 will not need to submit SAT or ACT scores in order to earn admission to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based institution, though they’ll have the option to do so.

Where Harvard goes, the rest tend to follow. This has been the case for as long as we can remember.

As Anemona Hartocollis reports for The New York Times in a piece entitled “Harvard Extends Test-Optional Admissions Policy for Four Years,” “Harvard attributed the move, announced on Thursday evening, to the pandemic, which has made it hard for students to get access to testing sites. But the decision has strong symbolic value, as it telegraphs that Harvard believes it can wade through thousands of applications and admit students without the aid of standardized test scores. It also signals that the university — and perhaps the nation — is one step closer to abolishing test scores from the admissions process altogether. ‘Students who do not submit standardized test scores will not be disadvantaged in their application process,’ William Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions and financial aid, said in a statement. He encouraged students to submit ‘whatever materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future.'”

So it should come as no surprise to our loyal readers that Ivy Coach will issue a crystal ball forecast today. We hereby forecast that all elite universities will extend their test-optional admissions policies through the next four years — and beyond. Test-optional admissions policies may have been a product of the pandemic but these policies are here to stay. That being said, we maintain as we’ve maintained all along — despite receiving immense pushback — that all else being equal students with great test scores will always enjoy an advantage over students with no scores.

 
 

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