Thursday, Harvard announced that it will not require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores until 2026, joining a growing number of universities that have implemented a “test-optional” policy for prospective students.
As a result, students applying to Harvard for the classes of 2027-2030 will not be required to submit an SAT or ACT score as part of their application.
William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, in a statement “Students who do not submit standardized test scores will not be disadvantaged in their application process.”
Adding that, “Their applications will be considered on the basis of what they have presented, and they are encouraged to send whatever materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future.”
The decision comes amid a dispute over the test’s impartiality, given that Black and Latino children score lower on average than White children, a problem that experts say reflects generational differences in education, money, and other well-being indicators. However, experts point out that SAT or ACT scores do not accurately predict how a child will perform in college; grades, on the other hand, are far more predictive of success in college.
During the pandemic, several students have struggled to take standardized tests; Harvard has announced that it will implement a test-optional policy until 2026, citing the ongoing health crisis as a factor. In response to the pandemic, many universities implemented a test-optional policy last year when numerous SAT testing dates were canceled.
Other colleges and institutions are exploring the possibility of implementing test-optional policies, either temporarily or permanently. In the fall of 2024, Columbia University and Cornell University, both members of the Ivy League, will make tests optional for applicants.
As a result of the switch to a test-optional policy, many of the country’s best schools saw an increase in applications. Due to the surge in applications, Ivy League schools like Harvard had record-low acceptance rates last year, as a result of students throwing their applications into the ring without considering their SAT or ACT scores.
As of last year, Harvard accepted 3.4 percent of applications, down from 4.9 percent the year before, and Columbia accepted 3.7 percent of applications, down from 6.1 percent.
Harvard said on Thursday that it has accepted 740 candidates via early action out of a total of 9,406 applicants, for a 7.8% acceptance rate. The acceptance rate for early action decisions is usually greater than the regular admissions cycle.