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MIT is Requiring Standardized Tests, Again
by William H. Floyd
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will once again require standardized test scores from applicants. This will begin to apply with the MIT Class of 2027, meaning next year’s applicants, after a two-year period in which MIT’s admissions process was test-optional. In a heavily footnoted blog post, MIT Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill, notes that the tests do show predictive value for student performance at MIT according to internal research. Schmill also stresses that students have greater access to SAT or ACT testing than other admission factors, like advanced courses, enrichment opportunities, and AP or IB exams, that would show similar predictive value. Most of all, “not having SATs/ACT scores to consider tends to raise socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education, relative to having them.”

This statement goes against the usual rationale provided when schools adopt test-optional policies. When the University of Chicago announced its test-optional policy in 2018 and later touted its success, the school explicitly tied it to broader efforts to “expand access.” Indiana University-Bloomington, which went test-optional before the COVID-19 Pandemic in January 2020, frames its policy as providing options to students who would otherwise not be admitted to IU. Most notably, when the entire University of California system went test-optional, the policy was presented as seeking to “address concerns about equitable treatment for all students.”

One of the many pieces of research Schmill cites to demonstrate that SAT and ACT scores add value to admissions processes is the Standardized Testing Task Force report given to the University of California Board of Regents in 2020. The UC Board of Regents did not follow the advice of the Task Force, which said that admission officers knew how to use test scores in context and that test scores should be kept in the admissions process at all 9 UC campuses. There are clearly many angles from which administrators can view the role of test scores in admissions, even when using the exact same research. Decisions about testing requirements are made by different individuals for different institutions.

Schmill takes pains to note that MIT is a unique case in college admissions. Due to the school's significant math requirements for all students, MIT needs extra assurance of students’ mathematical abilities. He also notes that MIT has years of internal research showing the correlation between strong test scores and subsequent student success at MIT. The post also mentions that MIT has used entrance examinations since the 19th century, so the two-year test optional period was really an outlier for the school.

Yet Schmill also highlights that there is no score that guarantees admission to MIT and there never has been. This is because MIT uses a holistic process that considers a number of factors, allowing the school’s admissions team to identify the best overall students for MIT. “Nor are strong scores themselves sufficient: our research shows students also need to do well in high school and have a strong match for MIT, including the resilience to rebound from its challenges, and the initiative to make use of its resources.” That sentiment could apply to almost all selective colleges, and Schmill’s insistence that there are many qualified students who nonetheless get rejected is applicable to all extremely selective colleges.

Yet MIT is the only extremely selective college reinstating its standardized testing requirements for now. This announcement does little to change the outlook for current juniors. Unless a student is applying only to test-free colleges and does not need to seek scholarships, they probably need to take the SAT, ACT, or both. After all, they can’t know if their scores will strengthen their application to a test-optional school until they have a score in hand. At least students who will be applying to MIT next year will have the clarity of knowing they need to submit test scores.
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AP Week
From April 4th to 8th, The Princeton Review is hosting AP Week! Over the course of five events, we will discuss everything students need to know about the Advanced Placement Exams and how college admission offices view high school performance. Students can register using any of the below links. Feel free to share with your campus community.
(All events start times listed are for the Eastern Time Zone.)

Sunday, April 3, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Monday, April 4, 2022 | 10:00 PM ET
Tuesday, April 5, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Wednesday, April 6, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Thursday, April 7, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Friday, April 8, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Join The Princeton Review's standardized testing experts for a series events from April 24th to April 29th, covering everything students need to know about cracking any test they may face. We will talk about strategies for SAT, ACT, and AP Exams, as well as how standardized tests fit into the college application process. Students can register using any of the below links. Feel free to share with your campus community.
(All events start times listed are for the Eastern Time Zone.)

Sunday, April 24th, 2022 | 8:00 PM ET
Monday, April 25, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Tuesday, April 26, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Thursday, April 28, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET
Thursday, April 28, 2022 | 10:00 PM ET
Friday, April 29, 2022 | 7:00 PM ET