Dartmouth, Yale reinstate standardized admissions test scores after realizing they are ‘predictive of academic success’

Ahhh, the Ivy League, where the best and the brightest are meant to be taught by the best and the brightest.

It’s hard to buy into that myth when two of the elite universities — Dartmouth and Yale — only just figured out that standardized testing, such as the SAT and ACT exams, is “predictive of academic success.”

Yale announced Thursday that it is following Dartmouth’s lead and will once again require would-be students to submit their standardized test scores.

In response to the COVID pandemic four years ago, Yale made the tests “optional,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Students applying this fall for the class of 2029 will no longer have that choice.

“In a departure from past practice, however, Yale said Thursday it will be ‘test-flexible’ by accepting not only the SAT and ACT exams, but scores from the International Baccalaureate as well as Advanced Placement exams,” according to The Journal.

Yale cited its internal data and a study from Dartmouth and Brown University as the reason for its decision.

The study, published in January by Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights research center, “found that students with the same high school GPA earned significantly higher grades during their freshman year in college if they scored 1600 on the SAT as compared with 1200,” The Journal explains. It “also found that students who didn’t submit an SAT or ACT score earned lower college grades at elite schools.”

“Over the past four years, we learned that our admissions committees can function without test scores,” Jeremiah Quinlan, Yale’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid, said. “But when operating a process that requires you to make predictions about the future with incomplete information, more evidence is better than less.”

According to The New York Times, “More than 80 percent of four-year colleges — or at least 1,825 of the nation’s institutions that grant bachelor degrees — will not require SAT or ACT scores this fall, according to the organization FairTest, which has fought against standardized testing.”

“In 2022, the number of students taking the SAT dropped to 1.7 million, a decline from 2.2 million in 2020,” the outlet reports.

The Times explains that doing away with the standardized tests may have harmed “less privileged students”:

The anti-testing movement has long said that standardized tests help fuel inequality, because many students from affluent families use tutors and coaches to bolster their scores.

But recent research has questioned whether test-optional policies may actually hurt the very students they were meant to help.

In January, Opportunity Insights, a group of economists based at Harvard, published a study that found that test scores could help identify lower-income students and students from underrepresented populations who would thrive in college. High scores from less privileged students can signal high potential.

Yale, in New Haven, Conn., said that test scores were particularly valuable in evaluating students who attend high schools with fewer academic resources or college preparatory courses.


For many on X, the benefits of standardized testing are obvious.

“It is standardized testing that helped the brightest from minority groups break through these ivy covered gates,” wrote one user.

Others predict it’s only a matter time before the universities reverse course again.

And still others are praying that academia is regaining its sanity.

Melissa Fine


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