Will more of America’s highly selective universities choose to drop the SAT and ACT as admissions requirements now that the University of California system has given these exams the cold shoulder? In an article published this week in The Daily Pennsylvanian, the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, we make the argument that the UC decision will influence other elite universities across America. As Kamille Houston writes in her piece, “University of California will end use of SAT, ACT in admissions entirely by fall 2025,” “Brian Taylor, managing director of New York City-based college admissions consulting firm Ivy Coach, believes the UC system’s decision will influence other universities, and said it is likely that highly selective universities, such as Ivy League institutions, will be test-optional in the future.”
Test-Optional Policies Don’t Mean Great Test-Takers Shouldn’t Submit Scores
But it’s important for our readers to remember that just because an elite university goes test-optional doesn’t mean applicants to these institutions shouldn’t submit test scores. Yes, test-optional schools love to see great test scores — whether they tell applicants this tidbit or not. In fact, we would make the argument that unless a school outright forbids the submission of certain test scores — as Yale has done with SAT Subject Tests for this coming admissions cycle and as MIT has done likely in perpetuity — a test-optional admissions policy isn’t really worth the paper it’s written on. As we are quoted in the piece in UPenn’s newspaper, “Taylor said there is a clear distinction between test-optional policies and policies that do not allow the submission of test scores at all. Just because a school is test-optional, Taylor said, does not mean an applicant should refrain from submitting scores to a university. ‘I would argue that test-optional colleges want to see test scores even more, because these schools still need to submit test scores to U.S. News and World Report, and that impacts the rankings,’ Taylor said. ‘The kids who submit great scores have a distinct advantage.'”
Colleges That Move Away from Test Scores Will Likely Stay That Course
A number of folks have wondered if these schools are going test-optional only for the Class of 2025 in response to all the test cancelations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t dispute that the COVID-19 pandemic has expedited the process of schools going test-optional — of course it has! But when a school makes a policy change, it’s unlikely they’ll ever go back. As we are quoted in the piece in UPenn’s newspaper, “Taylor believes the changes college admissions offices are making to testing requirements are not temporary. ‘Once you go test-optional, you don’t go back,’ Taylor said. ‘For schools that forbid the submission [of test scores], I don’t see them loosening those restrictions in the future.'”
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