Updated Apr 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Harvard reinstates standardized testing requirement, following Yale, MIT

A gate on Harvard's campus with two brick pillars and a metal gate. Trees surround it.

People walk through the gate on Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus in June 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Harvard will again require its applicants to submit standardized test scores for admission, the university announced on Thursday.

Why it matters: Elite universities like Yale and MIT have reinstated standardized test requirements, reversing course on pandemic-era policies that made them optional.

  • At Harvard, the mandate will be in place for students applying to begin school in fall 2025.

Between the lines: Harvard had previously committed to a test-optional policy for applicants through the class of 2030, which would have started in fall 2026.

  • Most students who applied since the pandemic began have submitted test scores despite the test-optional policy, the university said.

Catch up quick: Yale, Brown, Dartmouth and MIT had already reinstated exam score requirements for admissions.

Driving the news: Reviewing SAT/ACT scores as part of a student's application packet helps an admissions decision be holistic, the university said in a statement.

  • "Standardized tests are a means for all students, regardless of their background and life experience, to provide information that is predictive of success in college and beyond," Hopi Hoekstra, a Harvard dean, said in the statement.
  • "Indeed, when students have the option of not submitting their test scores, they may choose to withhold information that, when interpreted by the admissions committee in the context of the local norms of their school, could have potentially helped their application."

Zoom out: Other elite universities gave similar explanations to Harvard their resumed score requirements.

  • Research shows, though, that SAT/ACT scores correlate to family wealth.

Reality check: A majority of U.S. four-year colleges and universities remain test-free or test-optional for fall 2025 admissions, per FairTest.

Go deeper: The first U.S. digital SAT is coming up. Here's what you need to know

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