Yale Reverts to Requiring SAT/ACT Test Scores for Its Class of 2029

23/02/202410 minute read
Yale Reverts to Requiring SAT/ACT Test Scores for Its Class of 2029

This week Yale announced it will begin requiring standardized test scores for admissions, beginning with the Class of 2029 (applicants for the Fall of 2025). This makes Yale the second Ivy League School so far this year to abandon its test-optional policy, following Dartmouth. Yale's new policy includes some flexibility, however, for students already taking AP or IB tests.

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Yale Will Require Test Scores for the Class of 2029

Today, officials at Yale announced the school will be reinstating its requirement for SAT or ACT scores, but the new policy will be ‘test flexible.’

The new policy isn’t in effect for current applicants to Yale, but will be in effect for students applying to enter in the Fall of 2025 (Yale’s Class of 2029).

A Test Score Requirement with Flexibility

Applicants will choose which scores to include from four options:

  • ACT
  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • SAT

Yale’s stated goal for the flexible provisions is to “empower applicants to put their best foot forward.”

Addressing Concerns About Equity

The school expressed concerns about the impact of its test optional policy, adopted in the wake of the pandemic, citing possible harm to applicants from low-income families, a finding the school leaders acknowledged was perhaps counterintuitive.

School officials found, however, that in the absence of test scores, students from well-resourced high schools have abundant ways to exhibit academic readiness, compared to students from less-resourced high schools, where access to rigorous courses and academic enrichment opportunities are more limited.

“Our researchers and readers found that when admissions officers reviewed applications with no scores, they placed greater weight on other parts of the application. But this shift frequently worked to the disadvantage of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”

- Yale's Policy Announcement, February 22, 2024

Historically these exams have played a pivotal role in admissions decisions at top-tier universities, since they provide an objective indicator, compared to GPA, often impacted by school or classroom policies, or other subjective factors.

The term “test-optional” refers to a policy where submitting standardized test scores is at the discretion of the applicant. Test-optional policies gained widespread adoption in response to the pandemic.

Yale is the second Ivy to revert to requiring test scores, preceded by Dartmouth, announcing its policy change on February 5, 2024. Dartmouth’s new policy also goes into effect for the Class of 2029.

Yale Adds Flexibility to Its New Policy

In their announcement today, Yale officials also emphasized that prior to going ‘test optional’ in 2020, testing requirements accompanied significant gains in student diversity.

However, the new policy is designed to achieve an even more equitable admissions framework.

To that end, Yale’s new testing policy will be more flexible than in years past: students will have the option of submitting AP or IB scores in lieu of SAT or ACT scores:

Our positive experience of reviewing applications without ACT or SAT scores also taught us that requiring only those tests prior to 2020 likely discouraged some promising students from underrepresented backgrounds from applying.

For students who do opt to submit AP or IB test scores for admission to Yale, in lieu of SAT/ACT scores, the new Yale admissions policy for the Class of 2029 says applicants should include results from all [AP or IB] subject exams completed prior to applying.”

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Yale Re-affirmed Its Commitment to Holistic Admissions

Yale has an established tradition of evaluating applicants holistically, using a combination of ranking criteria, in addition to extracurricular profiles and admissions essays.

In announcing the new ‘test-flexible’ admissions guidelines, Yale leaders re-affirmed an ongoing commitment to maintaining a “thoughtful whole-person review process.”

“Admissions officers read applications holistically, using all the information available to paint a picture of a student’s strengths and potential to contribute to a college community. An application is like a jigsaw puzzle: the picture is not complete without all its pieces. ”

- "Standardized Testing Requirements," Yale Admissions Office

When Does the New Testing Requirement Start?

Yale is reinstating the testing requirement, using it ‘test flexible’ approach, for the Class of 2029.

Students applying in the coming year — to enroll in the Fall 2025 — need to adhere to the new policy.

Delving Into the Details

Yale's new standardized testing requirements come with guidelines that offer students, and families, ways to give themselves the best advantages possible when it comes to the scores they submit.

Here’s one important tip you can find in Yale’s guidelines that’s worth noting:

Prospective applicants should consider the exams they have completed and self-report the results that best complement the other academic information in their application—such as the high school transcript, honors and awards, and educational experiences outside the classroom.

In other words, students are encouraged to weight the pros and cons of submitting one set of scores vs. another, in terms of how it might impact their application profile.

Choosing Which Scores to Submit — A Hypothetical Example

In essence, Yale is suggesting you elect to submit the scores that best round out your overall application.

Let’s take a hypothetical example to illustrate.

Let’s imagine you blew your AP math exam AND didn’t have other stellar math grades on your transcript, but aced the math portion of the ACT. Thus, you could round out your math profile by submitting the ACT scores and withholding your AP subject scores.

However, in this same scenario, if your AP subject scores included great scores in Chemistry and History, you’d also have to take all that into account when deciding whether to submit ACT scores vs. AP scores.

For more guidance, Yale suggests applicants ask themselves the following questions:

When considering which scores to include with your application, consider the following questions:

  • Do the scores indicate my preparation for college-level coursework?
  • Do the scores reflect areas of academic strength?
  • Do the scores help showcase my academic range?
  • Do the scores supplement the courses and grades on my high school transcript?
  • Do the scores stand out as especially notable in my secondary school?
  • Am I proud of the scores as a reflection of the effort I put into preparing for the test(s)?

Declaring Which Scores You’re Submitting

Yale’s guidelines also preview how applicants will declare, in responses to prompts on the application form they use, which scores they’re submitting under the new guidelines:

1. Select one or more test types from the list of four options to indicate which scores you wish to have considered.

2. Self-report any scores from the test type(s) selected above that are not included elsewhere in your application.

3. Provide any details of circumstances that may have affected your experience preparing for or completing tests (optional).

How to Respond

Given the shifting landscape you may want to think about how you'll prepare for a college admissions future with more test score requirements. Learning about the concepts tested, making a plan that will help you achieve the best scores possible, and being diligent about SAT/ACT testing and reporting timelines, are all practical steps that will put you on the road to test success.

Learn more about the Top Colleges That Require SAT/ACT Scores in 2024/25

Learn more about the Top 100 Colleges That Are Test-Optional in 2024/25

What Makes Crimson Different

Final Thoughts

It’s too soon to tell if other schools, and more of the Ivies, will follow Dartmouth’s and now Yale’s lead…

Harvard, for example, has stated it’s test-option policy is in place up through its Class of 2030. We’ll have to see what direction Harvard takes on its testing for admissions policy after that.

The University of California system currently has a test-blind admissions policy in effect.

Statements from both Dartmouth and Yale spotlight concerns about equity, making it a prominent issue in what appears to be a gradual move away from the pandemic-era test optional policies.

If there’s substance to these claims, it will be interesting to see if that compels many more schools to follow suit in the coming years.

Whether for SAT or ACT test questions or support, or other kinds of personalized admissions planning, students are encouraged to book a free consultation with a Crimson counselor to start charting a more confident path to Yale or other leading universities.

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