Are SAT Scores Making A Comeback In College Admissions?

SAT scores

Since the pandemic, test-optional policies have remained popular among colleges and universities nationwide, but some prestigious schools are starting to bring back standardized testing requirements, particularly the SAT.

Schools that have recently re-instated test scores as application requirements include Yale University, Dartmouth, University of Texas- Austin, Harvard, and the University of Florida.

Ironically, some of these schools give the same reason for reviving standardized testing as they gave for abolishing it—to promote equity amongst applicants. According to a Dartmouth statement, “SAT/ACTs can be especially helpful in identifying students from less-resourced backgrounds who would succeed at Dartmouth but might otherwise be missed in a test-optional environment.”

Harvard echoes this sentiment, calling SAT scores “a means for all students, regardless of their background and life experience, to provide information that is predictive of success in college and beyond”. Harvard had previously stated it would remain test optional through 2026.

To be fair, the SAT has undergone major changes, many of which are designed to level the playing field for students from diverse backgrounds. The vocabulary section, for example, has been revamped to exclude words considered obscure or culturally exclusive.

Most recently, the SAT has gone fully digital, enabling students to take the test with an app that is adaptive to individual progress. It’s also shorter than the traditional SAT and gives students more time per question.  

Colleges and universities in the United States have long relied on testing as a tie-breaker of sorts for applicants with similar GPAs. Though grades have been touted by some as more reliable predictors of college success, they lack the “standardized” element of tests like the SAT and its competitor, the ACT. With these kinds of tests, everyone answers the same questions and the student with the higher score can be assumed to be the better candidate, other admissions factors notwithstanding.  

Experts advise that more schools may be reversing their test-optional policies in the coming months.


Related: Can You Get Into College With A Low SAT Score?