Stanford University to resume requiring SAT, ACT for undergraduate applications

Stanford University, after temporarily dropping a requirement for undergraduate applicants to submit the SAT or ACT, will start requiring the controversial college-admissions tests for students applying in the fall of 2025.

The Bay Area school was among many that paused the requirement during the pandemic, and joins other elite universities including Harvard College and Yale University in reinstating the standardized tests.

“Test scores represent only one part of a holistic review of each applicant to the university, for which academic potential is the primary criterion for admission,” Stanford said Friday in announcing the return to required tests.

Amid the widespread pausing of the test requirement during the pandemic, many schools opted to drop the tests, or make them optional, over concerns around lower average scores for lower-income, Black and Latino students than for White, Asian and higher-income pupils.

Stanford, like other schools bringing back the testing mandate, pointed to its own research supporting use of the tests, saying a review by its faculty committee on undergraduate admissions found performance on standardized exams was “an important predictor of academic performance at Stanford.”

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Caltech in April restored the requirement for this fall’s applications, making the announcement just after Harvard College brought back the mandate. Caltech’s undergraduate admissions policy committee said the testing provided a key “data point” in understanding a student’s “unique circumstances and experiences.”

Dartmouth College, another elite school that reinstated the requirement, starting this fall, pointed to its own faculty research in making the same assertion about performance, and argued that the test scores improved the ability of its admissions department to “identify high-achieving less-advantaged applicants.” Harvard, in announcing it was bringing back the testing requirement, said the results help it “identify promising students at less-well-resourced high schools, particularly when paired with other academic credentials.”

The University of California system, facing a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court in 2019 alleging the SAT and ACT put up a discriminatory barrier to students of color and students with disabilities, abandoned the SAT in 2020. The California State University system in 2022 followed suit. After the UC Regents unanimously voted to scrap the testing mandate, then-president of the UC system Janet Napolitano said UC would develop a new test “that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC.”

The UC Academic Senate in 2023 cited “innovative admission polices” and said that while it initially opposed eliminating standardized tests, dropping them “demonstrated a way in which UC can lead in advancing access and opportunity for the state’s students.”




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