Dartmouth College Imposes SAT Requirement for Applicants, Breaking Ivy League Tradition

Students applying to undergraduate courses at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university, will now have to submit standardized test scores starting next year. This comes as other selective colleges are also considering reinstating such requirements.

“Dartmouth will reactivate the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission beginning with applicants to the Class of 2029, based on new research,” the university stated.

In June 2020, Dartmouth temporarily suspended its standardized testing requirement for undergraduate applicants.

Dartmouth President Sian Beilock conducted an internal study on standardized tests, which revealed that test scores were more effective than high school grades, essays, and teacher recommendations in predicting students’ success at Dartmouth.

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Regardless of a student’s background or family income, the faculty study group concluded that standardized test scores are a crucial predictor of a student’s success in Dartmouth’s curriculum.

“The reactivation [of the test-required policy] is based on a comprehensive research study conducted by faculty,” said Lee Coffin, Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Interestingly, the researchers found that Dartmouth’s test-optional policy during the pandemic negatively affected lower-income applicants. Many disadvantaged students chose not to submit their SAT or ACT scores, mistakenly believing their scores were too low. In reality, these scores could have showcased their resilience and potential, potentially securing their admission.

Test results serve as a beneficial tool for admissions staff to identify high-achieving students, especially in cases where the applicant’s high school provides limited details about the student’s performance.

“We receive applications from all over the world, and test scores prove to be a valuable tool in finding high-achieving students,” commented Dartmouth professor Bruce Sacerdote. “Our analysis indicates that we might miss out on some exceptional applicants when we don’t have test scores.”

According to FairTest, over 1,900 schools and universities in the United States currently have a “test optional” policy, allowing applicants to choose whether or not to submit their standardized test results. In 2022, California State University, one of the largest public universities in the country, decided to eliminate its admissions procedures involving standardized testing.

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