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10 MAR 2023
Following two years of test-optional policies, Columbia University has become the first Ivy League school to adopt the move permanently. Students applying to Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science will no longer be required to submit standardized test scores.
The university said that it crafted its application to allow flexibility “for students to represent themselves fully and showcase their academic talents,” but that entrance exams are not mandated. Columbia dropped its testing requirement in 2020 and continually extended that waiver.
Following Columbia’s announcement, the College of William & Mary in Virginia also announced that it would adopt test-optional policies indefinitely. "William & Mary’s holistic admission review process involves many components, including several optional elements, such as standardized test scores, teacher recommendations and interviews," the university added. They have been test-optional for the last 3 years.
Many universities have become test-optional since the beginning of the Covid pandemic to make it easier for students to apply to university. However, many of the most prestigious schools in the nation have decidedly stated that they do not plan to adopt permanent test-optional policies.
Columbia has also stated that students who will submit test scores will not be given advantages over those who don’t. “The submission of test results will be viewed only as one additional piece of information among the many factors that we will consider in our continued practice of a holistic and contextual review process,” the university said to Higher Ed Dive.
Despite the test optional policy last year, 43% of applicants to Columbia submitted SAT scores and 28% submitted ACT scores. The SAT has also maintained that its new digital format is better suited for students and connects them to important services like finding scholarships. Many of the most prestigious schools in the nation have decidedly stated that they do not plan to adopt permanent test-optional policies.