Columbia University

Columbia Dumps SAT Admissions Requirement for Good

Harvard, Cornell, Yale, Princeton, Penn and NYU are test-optional for now, but their policies have expiration dates

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Columbia University says it will no longer require prospective undergraduate students to take the SAT or ACT tests in order to be considered for admission.

Like other Ivy League institutions, the New York school implemented the policy to suspend the testing requirements during the height of the pandemic. But unlike the others, Columbia is believed to be the first to adopt the policy permanently.

"The holistic and contextual application review process…is rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multi-faceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor," the school said in a statement. "Our review is purposeful and nuanced—respecting varied backgrounds, voices and experiences—in order to best determine an applicant's suitability for admission and ability to thrive in our curriculum and our community, and to advance access to our educational opportunities."

In their statement, the university said applicants for Columbia College (its undergraduate program) and the School of Engineering can still take the tests if they so choose, and for those who do so, their testing policies will remain the same. Columbia also clarified that those who do not submit test scores will not be held at a disadvantage.

Instead, admission will be based on "the rigor of a student's curriculum, their academic achievement, and their demonstrated intellectual curiosity."

The change in policy takes away any of the previous time restrictions that the school had for students. For previous application cycles, Columbia stated the tests would be optional for those enrolling through fall 2024.

NYU also has made submitting SAT and/or ACT scores optional since the pandemic, but it is not a permanent school policy. However, the test-optional policy remains in effect for the 2023-2024 application cycle, according to the NYU website.

Harvard and Princeton also have made the standardized tests optional, but that policy is currently in effect until 2026 for those Ivy League institutions. Cornell's test-optional policy is set to last through fall 2024 for several of its programs, as is the University of Pennsylvania. Yale, Brown and Dartmouth also do not have testing requirements currently, but the current policies are only in effect for those applying through fall of 2023.

A group called FairTest, which states it advocates "against the misuse and overuse of standardized tests in education," maintains a list of colleges and universities that are test optional. And while that list is currently at more than 1,800 across the country, it's important to note that those policies are temporary at most of the schools listed.

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