Harvard Drops Standardized Test Requirements for Class of 2025

The decision marks a growing trend among colleges and universities

Langdell Hall at Harvard University
Harvard just made a big announcement.
Daderot/Creative Commons

For years, the process of applying to colleges and universities centered around one thing: standardized tests. Get a high enough score on the SATs and you might get into the school of your dreams. But a growing body of scholarship has gradually eaten away at the primacy of standardized test scores, calling into question how good they really are at measuring students’ performance, and pointing out the ways in which they fall short.

With large public events still mostly on hold due to COVID-19 — such as dozens of students sitting in a classroom for several hours to take a test — a growing number of institutions of higher learning are making standardized tests optional for affected applicants. It remains to be seen whether or not this practice will last beyond the pandemic, but it’s a promising acknowledgement that a new and better system is needed.

The latest to announce it would drop the standardized testing requirement is a big one: Harvard. In an announcement posted on Harvard College’s website, the Ivy League school announced a change in plans for the Class of 2025.

Harvard College will allow students to apply for admission to the Class of 2025 without requiring standardized test scores. We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds, and we believe this temporary change addresses these challenges.

Harvard isn’t the only high-profile New England school to make this decision; Brown announced something similar earlier this week. It might just herald the start of a new era in college admissions.

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