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Fancy American Colleges Won’t Require an SAT or ACT Score Next Year

Nearly 200 schools have ditched the requirement this spring.

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The prayers of rising high school seniors across the country have been answered, as college and universities from California to Connecticut are dropping standardized testing from their admissions requirements. Hallelujah!

The latest school to remove one of the most time-consuming, expensive, and stressful steps from its admissions process is Harvard College.

“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,” the school wrote in a statement.

Harvard joins a slew of other public and private institutions in discarding its testing requirement for students matriculating next fall. These schools are responding to the difficult and potentially dangerous proposition that is in-person testing during a pandemic.

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FairTest, a non-profit organization that advocates against standardized testing as a requirement for college admission, has tracked which schools require the SAT or ACT for years. Its data shows that 188 schools have dropped their requirement this spring, bringing the total number to 1,240, or more than half of the schools that grant bachelor’s degrees in this country.

At the moment, most of the schools that made this change in response to the coronavirus have done so on a temporary basis, and if the public health situation improves it’s quite likely that many of them will revert back to requiring standardized testing for the class of 2026.

But if this year’s impromptu testing-free admissions experiment goes off without a hitch, at least some of those schools could decide that requiring SAT or ACT scores of their applicants is unnecessary. With substantial evidence suggesting that they’re not all that good at predicting success in college, it’s hard to see that possibility as anything but positive.