Stanford University again requires SAT and ACT for bachelor applications

After temporarily lifting the requirement for undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT tests, Stanford University would require all students applying to take the controversial college admissions tests starting in fall 2025.

The Bay Area school was considered one of many who suspended the requirement through the pandemic, joining other elite universities akin to Harvard College and Yale University which have reinstated standardized testing.

“Test scores represent only one part of a holistic review of each applicant to the university, for which academic potential is the most important admission criterion,” Stanford said on Friday in Announcement of the return to mandatory testing.

During the pandemic, mandatory testing has been largely suspended. Many schools have chosen to eliminate testing or make it optional. Concerns about lower average grades for college students from low-income families and black and Latino students than for white, Asian and higher-income students.

Stanford, like other universities that reinstated testing requirements, cited its own research to support using the tests. A review by the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admissions found that performance on standardized tests was “an important indicator of academic performance at Stanford.”

Dartmouth College, one other elite university that reinstated the requirement this fall, pointed to its own faculty research that made the identical claim about performance, arguing that the test scores improved the admissions department's ability to “Identifying high-performing, disadvantaged applicants.” Harvard announced that it the reintroduction of compulsory testing, The results would help “identify promising students at financially weaker high schools, especially in conjunction with other academic qualifications.”

The University of California system, which faced a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court in 2019 alleging that the SAT and ACT posed a discriminatory barrier for students of color and students with disabilities, abandoned the SAT in 2020. The California State University system followed suit in 2022. After the UC Regents voted unanimously to eliminate the testing requirement, then-UC system president Janet Napolitano said The UC will develop a new test “that is healthier aligned with what we expect from freshmen to display their preparation for UC.”

The UC Academic Senate referred to “innovative admissions policies” in 2023 and said that it initially opposed the elimination of standardized tests but “showed how UC can lead in improving access and opportunities for the state’s students.”

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