Stanford University Reinstates Standardized Testing for the Class of 2030

07/06/20249 minute read
Stanford University Reinstates Standardized Testing for the Class of 2030

On June 7th, Stanford announced it will reinstate standardized testing for admissions, beginning with the Class of 2030 (applicants for the Fall of 2026). Stanford now joins a number of other prominent US universities in opting to discontinue test-optional policies instituted in response to the pandemic. Stanford cited internal reviews demonstrating the value of test scores as predictors of students’ academic performance as the reason for reinstating test mandates.

Stanford Will Require Test Scores for the Class of 2030

After going test optional in 2020 in response to the pandemic, Stanford recently announced it will reinstate testing requirements for students applying in 2025 to enroll in the Fall of 2026 (Class of 2030).

Stanford joins a handful of other prominent schools, such as Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, Harvard, Cornell, Caltech, and the University of Texas at Austin, making similar announcements during the past several months.

As to why Stanford is reinstating testing mandates, leaders at the school cited an interest in the predictive power of test scores and the role test scores play in enhancing a holistic admissions process:

Performance on standardized tests is an important predictor of academic performance at Stanford, a review by the faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid has confirmed. The renewed testing requirement will allow Stanford to consider the fullest array of information in support of each student’s application.

Historically SAT/ACT exams have played a pivotal role in admissions decisions at top-tier universities, since they provide an objective indicator, compared to GPA, which is often impacted by school or classroom policies, or by inequitable educational opportunities.

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When Does Stanford's Testing Requirement Go into Effect?

Stanford says the new policy won't go into effect until students begin applying to enroll for the Class of 2030 "in a manner that will allow all students enough lead time to plan and prepare for testing."

This means if you're expecting to be submitting a Stanford application in the Fall of 2025 or later, you'll want to be prepared.

Be sure you'll have either SAT or ACT test scores to submit with your Stanford application, while also taking every opportunity to practice the test and get the best scores possible.

Students worried about testing and test scores may also want to consider getting help from a tutor who is qualified and experienced in SAT/ACT topics and formats.

How Does the Test Policy Impact Stanford Admissions?

When announcing plans to reinstate standardized testing requirements, Stanford officials reaffirmed the school's commitment to a holistic admissions process:

Stanford will continue to review applicants in context, and to consider each piece of an application as part of an integrated and comprehensive whole.

While test scores, along with GPA and course rigor, make up a trio of important academic readiness indicators, it's not always easy to discern how institutions see the role of test scores in the scope of larger holistic admissions processes.

For example, some of the Ivy League institutions opting to move away from test-optional policies and revert to testing mandates, such as Harvard and Yale, have cited studies claiming to highlight the value of test scores as predictors of future academic performance, including for providing a critical evaluation component for many students from less-resourced high schools.

This means in addition to shifting test polices, rationales underlying test requirements may also be in flux as top schools re-evaluate test policies within a holistic admissions framework and in the context of efforts to recruit diverse pools of applicants.

“Stanford evaluates academic achievement and potential in the context of each student’s background, educational pathway, work and family responsibilities, and other factors.”

- Stanford University

Which Schools Still Have Test-Optional Admissions and Which Don't?

Many schools moved away from standardized testing requirements, adopting test-optional or test-blind policies out of concerns about test bias, fairness in admissions, or else as a practical matter, in response to pandemic isolation.

This means many top schools still do not require SAT/ACT scores for admissions, in most cases giving students the option to submit or not submit test scores. But will this continue to be the case going forward?

Initially stating it’s test-optional policy would remain in place through its Class of 2030 but changing course abruptly in April, Harvard announced plans to reinstate testing requirements beginning with applicants to the Class of 2029.

Other Ivies reinstating testing requirements are Dartmouth, Cornell, and Brown. Yale is also included, but with its new policy offering students a slightly more flexible array of test options.

This year Columbia became the only Ivy to announce it will remain test optional indefinitely, for Columbia College and for the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Caltech and the University of Texas at Austin also announced plans to reinstate testing mandates, beginning with admissions for the Class of 2029.

MIT reinstated standardized testing policy over a year ago, for students applying to enter in the Fall of 2023.

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

The University of Chicago also has stopped requiring test scores for admissions, using a test-optional policy with a “No Harm” provision, meaning any SAT or Act score submitted will only be used in review for the purpose of positively affecting an applicant’s chance of admission.

Given this shifting landscape, students and parents should be on the look out for what comes next with regard to testing policies for admissions.

Will more schools extend test-optional policies?

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

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

Get expert insights to help you Decode Shifting Norms for SAT/ACT Testing and College Admissions.

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Tips for SAT/ACT Success

Below are some simple and practical steps students and families can take right now to prepare for a college admissions future where test score requirements are once again the norm!

These steps include:

  1. Improve your mastery of relevant SAT/ACT topics and concepts by enrolling in rigorous courses in English and math
  2. Make a plan that will help you achieve the best scores possible, including the use of study resources and practice tests
  3. Get help from a highly qualified online tutor
  4. Be diligent about SAT/ACT testing and reporting timelines

These are all practical steps you can take, steps our Advisors find to be very effective in helping students chart a path to a better SAT/ACT score that fully reflects their potential!

What Makes Crimson Different

Final Thoughts

Although the majority of US colleges and universities moved away from testing requirements during the pandemic, or even before that, many prominent schools — including Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, and Cornell — have recently announced plans to revert back to standardized test requirements for admissions.

If you're applying to more competitive schools, even ones that are test optional, Crimson strategists typically recommend students aim to submit the best scores possible in order in the hopes of gaining a more competitive position.

Now it appears even more schools may go back to requiring testing, making it even more crucial to plan ahead and be prepared.

If you're deciding whether to take the SAT or ACT, or want other kinds of personalized admissions planning insights, we encourage you to book a free consultation with a Crimson counselor. Together, we can plan your journey to Stanford and help you identify and explore other great schools that fit your passions, goals, and interests.