Columbia University permanently drops SAT and ACT scores as admission requirement after pandemic pause – saying ‘students cannot be defined by any factor’
- Columbia is the first Ivy League university to be test-optional indefinitely
- Undergrad applicants can still submit SAT or ACT scores if they wish
Columbia University has become the first Ivy League school to indefinitely suspend standardized test scores as an admissions requirement.
In an announcement on Wednesday, the elite Manhattan university said SAT or ACT scores would be optional for undergraduate applicants from Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The announcement explained that the admissions review process is “rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multifaceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools, including Columbia, suspended testing requirements, and a growing number have expanded testing-optional policies at least for years to come.
Columbia University has become the first Ivy League school to indefinitely suspend standardized test scores as an admissions requirement
However, Columbia’s move makes it the first in the Ivy League to drop standardized testing requirements without a proposed end date to reinstate requirements.
While undergraduate applicants can still submit SAT or ACT scores if they wish, Columbia insisted in a statement, “Students who choose not to submit test scores will not be at a disadvantage in our process.”
Our assessment is purposeful and nuanced – respecting different backgrounds, voices and experiences – to best determine an applicant’s suitability for admission and ability to thrive in our curriculum and community, and to enhance access to our to promote educational opportunities’, according to the university. .
“We designed our application to provide students with the utmost opportunity and flexibility to fully represent themselves and showcase their academic talents, interests and goals,” the statement said.
Columbia joins a growing number of colleges that decide to expand test-optional policies or stop considering test scores altogether.
Harvard University previously said tests won’t be required until 2026 amid ongoing challenges.
The University of Wisconsin has announced that test scores will remain optional through the spring of 2025.
The University of California system became the largest U.S. higher education institution to surrender test scores as part of a 2021 court settlement.
Faced with a lawsuit from students and groups who said the SAT and ACT are biased against students of color, the system opted to completely disregard test scores.
The organizations behind the SAT and ACT have denied allegations that their tests are biased.
Columbia Joins Growing Number of Colleges Deciding to Expand Test-Optional Policies or End Consideration of Test Scores Completely
The fairness of standardized tests also came under scrutiny in 2019, when researchers revealed that, as part of Varsity Blues college’s sprawling admissions scandal, some wealthy parents had paid to cheat on their children’s exams.
Some colleges dropped their demands after those revelations.
The board of directors, which administers the SAT, announced last year that the test will move to a digital format online, rather than a paper-and-pencil exam, and that it will be shortened from three hours to two hours.
The format change is planned for this year in the US and in 2024 internationally, as part of an effort to increase the relevance of the exam as more colleges make the test optional, it said.