Yale Once Again Requires Standardized Test Scores

DEA / M. BORCHI / Getty Images
DEA / M. BORCHI / Getty Images

Yale University will require applicants in the class of 2029 to report standardized test scores, reversing a pandemic-era policy that was in place for nearly four years.

Students applying in the 2024-2025 cycle must report a combination of SAT, ACT, IB or AP scores, the university announced Thursday. Yale has a “holistic” application process that includes personal essays, letters of recommendation, and other factors in evaluating candidates.

The decision makes Yale the second Ivy League school to drop test-optional policies, following a similar announcement made by Dartmouth two weeks earlier. Before that, MIT and Georgetown were the only elite schools to require standardized test scores, dropping test-optional policies in 2022 and 2021, respectively.

The policy shift not only signals the end of a pandemic-era adjustment but also indicates the failure of that change to meaningfully address inequities. Though initially intended to ease disparities by income on exams like the SAT and ACT, test-optional policies only hurt lower-income students in the long run, Yale said.

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“Our researchers and readers found that when admissions officers reviewed applications with no scores, they placed greater weight on other parts of the application. But this shift frequently worked to the disadvantage of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” Yale’s statement reads.

Although activities, essays, and letters of recommendation can show leadership, the college relies on test scores to demonstrate academic preparedness for students at under-resourced high schools. “When students attending these high schools include a score with their application —even a score below Yale’s median range—they give the committee greater confidence that they are likely to achieve academic success in college,” the school’s statement said.

“Among all application components, test scores are the single greatest predictor of a student’s future Yale grades,” it added, citing data from before and after the pandemic.

That finding is similar to the reasoning behind the end of Dartmouth’s test-optional policy. A study organized by the college’s president found that lower-income students often chose not to submit scores that would’ve helped them get into Dartmouth, believing they were too low based on the school’s stated admitted-student score range.

Yale’s policy change is not a complete reversion to its pre-pandemic ways, however. Applicants may still choose not to report SAT or ACT scores if they choose to submit AP or IB scores instead.

“An application is like a jigsaw puzzle: the picture is not complete without all its pieces,” the university said.

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