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Yale’s testing revolution: Announcing the Never-before-seen Test Flexible Policy

American Ivy League college, Yale, just announced that it would be altering its testing policy for students applying to the undergraduate college. This new move by the university veers aways from the policy of test optional prevalent at the vast majority of American universities.  To put this in perspective, Yale would be braking rank with the more than 80% of US colleges uphold test-optional or test-blind policies where SAT and ACT testing is not required.  

Test optional has been in fashion since covid as many universities recognized that access to testing centers and other barriers affected the ability of students to undergo testing. At the time, easing this requirement made sense to ensure that even students who might have been prevented from testing on account of covid-related restrictions could still apply.

While covid opened the floodgates for a widespread change in American university application testing policy, standardized testing had already been under fire for some time prior on account of allegations of unfairness and bias. Consequently, this turbulent era marked a widespread debate about the utility of testing in admissions and even led some universities to abolish testing policies all together—among the most noteworthy of which are the University of California schools.

While many schools remain committed to preserving test-optional policies post-covid, certain well-known universities have already re-instituted their standardized testing requirements, such as MIT, Georgetown and Georgia Institute of Technology. MIT’s Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill remarked on this reversal by saying, “Our research has shown that, in most cases, we cannot reliably predict students will do well at MIT unless we consider standardized test results alongside grades, coursework, and other factors.” As such, he reiterated the long-held trust in standardized tests as a predictor of academic success, and the fact that, without these tests, universities like MIT are hard-pressed to compare students across high schools on account of their respective varying and subjective grading systems.

On the other hand, universities across the board have also been sympathetic to claims of unfairness in standardized testing. University of California encapsulated these allegations within their rationale for eliminating testing: (1) standardized tests are biased against students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds (essentially meaning low-income households where the parents do not have college degrees) and (2) the SAT does not substantially improve the university’s ability to predict college grades beyond just using the student’s high school grade point average. Notably, the second point directly disagrees with the main intent purported by standardized testing advocates.

Within this debate, the positions were henceforth quite limited—usually to one of three policies by the university. However, Yale has ushered in a new stance with their announcement of  “test flexible.” With this new policy, students will be required to submit standardized tests, but the options of which tests to submit is expanded beyond just SAT or ACT. Students will now have two test additional options to showcase their academic potential: Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB). This new policy reinstates the standardized testing requirement while offering more freedom to students on which test to submit. The question remains: how many other universities will follow suit and how will students adapt to these changes?