SAT and ACT testing is no longer optional at top schools | College Connection

Harvard University has succumbed to peer pressure.

It has joined fellow Ivy League institutions Yale, Brown and Dartmouth in announcing a return to the long-standing tradition of requiring standardized test scores of students seeking admission.

All applicants to the class of 2029, who will be filing their applications in the fall and winter of this year, need to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission, barring unusual circumstances. This may leave some students, who were planning to apply "test optional," scrambling to prepare for, and take, an all-important SAT or ACT exam in the coming months.

The last SAT administrations of 2024 will take place on May 4 (with an April 23 late registration deadline), June 1, Aug. 24, Oct. 5, Nov. 2 and Dec. 7. The ACT will be offered on June 8, July 13, Sept. 14, Oct. 26 and Dec. 14.

Harvard had previously indicated that it would remain test optional through the admitted class of 2030, maintaining a policy that was instituted during the pandemic when many testing sites were closed. But according to Harvard’s statistics, the majority of undergraduates entering Harvard during the past four years have submitted standardized test scores, despite the pandemic.

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Another elite school on the opposite coast, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), likewise announced this past week that it is restoring its standardized test requirement for undergraduate applicants starting this fall. Caltech, one of the most prestigious universities in the country with an acceptance rate of 3%, reported that more than 95% of its most recently enrolled class had taken a standardized test, even though it wasn’t required.

That’s not surprising, as many elite schools, even those that claim to be test optional, report that the vast majority of accepted students had taken the SAT or ACT exam. Colleges know that the SAT (or ACT) is the one level playing field on which they can compare all of their applicants. While a student’s grade point average (GPA) is important, colleges know that teachers and schools have widely varying grading policies, which makes it impossible to compare students, nationwide, utilizing this criterion.

Almost all institutions, with the exception of the University of California schools, will consider standardized scores, if submitted. Now, more and more schools are requiring them.

Susan Alaimo is the founder & director of Collegebound Review, offering PSAT/SAT® preparation & private college advising by Ivy League educated instructors. Visit or call 908-369-5362.

This article originally appeared on SAT and ACT testing is no longer optional at top schools