A surge in applications from Harvard University has forced the university’s admissions office to delay its admissions process. In addition, New York City, Brown and other colleges also saw a surge in applications. “Overwhelming application numbers” and “plummeting admission rates to top schools” seem to be the defining features of this year’s application season.
The main reason behind this is test-optional policy. Because of the outbreak, nearly all colleges in the United States will no longer require SAT/ACT scores from applicants in 2021, leading many colleges to see a surge in applications and an influx of students hoping to try their luck.
So, is test-optional here to stay? A number of American universities have already given their answer.
On January 30, 2021, Harvard University announced that it will continue its test-optional policy for the class of 2026, which will continue to exempt students from submitting standardized Test scores.
Of course, applicants can still choose to submit test results or self-report scores, but if applicants do not submit standardized test scores, they will not be treated differently.
Source: Harvard University website
In addition to Harvard, a number of other universities recently announced that they will continue to offer test-optional policies.
Columbia University has announced that Test-Optional will be extended for one year, allowing students to opt out of submitting their Test scores for fall 2022.
Source: Columbia University website
Columbia promises not to discriminate between students who are unable to submit or choose not to submit standardized scores; For students who still choose to submit, there is no change in the policy regarding the grade requirements.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania announced a similar policy, requiring applicants not to submit SAT/ACT scores for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
Applicants can also choose to submit test results or self-report scores, but if applicants do not do so, they will not be treated differently.
Source: University of Pennsylvania website
On January 25, 2021, Cornell University announced on its website that it will not need to submit SAT/ACT scores for the fall of 2022. This will be the same for both early and regular admissions.
Source: Cornell University website
Cornell University emphasizes that it does not plan to take test-optional permanently. If you are eligible to take the Test, you should take it as long as you are safe.
The statement also noted that for applicants who cannot submit standardized scores, admissions officers will focus on the following applications:
High school grades;
Challenging academic experience;
Other verifiable high school and college preparatory grades;
The personal quality and authenticity of the application document;
Details and personal opinions in a recommendation letter from a counselor or teacher.
Source: Cornell University website
Williams College and Amherst College, two of the most selective liberal arts colleges, also announced that test-optional policies will remain in place from 2021-2023.
Williams College says all students applying for admission to Williams College in the fall of 2021, 2022 or 2023 will have the option of submitting SAT/ACT scores.
Source: Williams College website
Amherst College announced today that it will continue its test-optional policy for applicants for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 admissions cycles. At some point before the 2023-2024 admissions cycle, Amherst will decide whether to keep Test-Optional permanently.
Source: Amherst College
California Institute of Technology
Caltech announced earlier in 2020 that it would go directly to Test-Optional for three years, from 2021 to 2023, without requiring applicants to submit standardized scores.
University of California System
As early as May 2020, the University of California announced that it would phase out the SAT/ACT requirement for admission applications over the next five years and open up its own testing system. It plans to eliminate SAT/ACT scores altogether by 2024. Specific requirements for each year are as follows:
2021-2022: test-optional policy;
2023-2024: A test-blind policy will be implemented, meaning SAT/ACT scores will not be considered at all in admissions decisions;
2025: Complete elimination of the SAT/ACT requirement, regardless of the maturity of the college entrance exam developed by the UC department.