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Yale ditches controversial test-optional policy, saying it hurts lower-income applicants

Yale University on Thursday said it will reinstate standardized testing requirements for incoming students — joining a handful of elite schools that have ditched the controversial test-optional policy put in place during the pandemic.

The Ivy League school said its current policy was a disadvantage for students from low-income, first-generation, and rural backgrounds.

Students from well-resourced high schools have numerous substitutes for standardized tests, such as transcripts filled with advanced courses, praised-filled teacher recommendations, and extracurriculars to prove students qualifications.

In turn, high-achieving students in less-equipped schools might quickly exhaust the resources available to showcase students potential on paper.

With no test scores to supplement these components, applications from students attending these schools may leave admissions officers with scant evidence of their readiness for Yale, the New Haven, CT, school said.

Beginning with the class of 2029, students will be required to submit their scores in a new new test-flexible from one of four exams: the SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB). 

Yales admission data stretching to pre-pandemic indicates that the test scores hold the highest predictive value for a student’s subsequent grades at Yale, according to the cited school’s internal research.

Yale joins fellow Ivy League school Dartmouth, along with Georgetown and MIT, in once again requiring students to submit their scores.

“Trends like this tend to have a snowball effect, so if more top schools bring back the requirement, expect more to follow,” said Brian Carlidge of educational platform Kaplan to Yahoo! Finance.

However, only about 15% of test-optional schools were reconsidering their policies in 2023, according to Kaplan’s recent college admissions officers survey.

Over 80% of four-year colleges uphold test-optional policy for fall 2025 admissions, according to data by FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing.  

Hundreds of institutions, including Columbia University and the California State University campuses, permanently adopted test-optional or test-blind policies.

Advocates of test-optional policies continue to argue that standardized tests disadvantage certain groups of applicants who historically haven’t performed as strongly on them, including black and Hispanic students, immigrants, and applicants whose families cannot afford costly test preparation programs.

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