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Columbia Becomes First Ivy League School To Permanently Drop Standardized Exam Requirement

 Columbia University   became the first   Ivy League   school to permanently drop its standardized testing requirements for   undergraduates...

 Columbia University became the first Ivy League school to permanently drop its standardized testing requirements for undergraduates.

The postsecondary institution announced Wednesday that the policy changes for Columbia College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science are “rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multi-faceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor.” Students are still optionally permitted to submit their standardized test scores.

“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,” the university’s admissions department said in a statement. “We have designed our application to afford the greatest possible opportunity and flexibility for students to represent themselves fully and showcase their academic talents, interests and goals.”

Ivy League universities first implemented test-optional admissions policies for certain incoming classes in the wake of government lockdown mandates, which presented difficulties for some students attempting to take college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.

Several schools have nevertheless continued to accept applications that did not include standardized exam scores: the University of Pennsylvania has extended test-optional admissions through the 2023-2024 application cycle and Cornell University extended the policy through the 2024-2025 cycle, while Harvard University and Princeton University extended the policy through the 2025-2026 cycle, according to a report from the Columbia Spectator.

Students who apply to Columbia and decline to submit applications with standardized test results will not be disadvantaged against students who do submit their scores. “We will continue to evaluate all submitted information within an individualized application review process that considers the unique combination of circumstances shaping each applicant’s journey,” the university added.

The phenomenon extends beyond undergraduate admissions: the American Bar Association endorsed dropping the LSAT last year as an admission requirement for law schools.

Even as admissions departments at prominent universities drop testing requirements, the College Board, which administers the SAT, announced that students who take the exam will now have more time for each question as the test is revised to be easier and shorter. Scores for the ACT have reached their lowest average in three decades, a phenomenon that corresponded with dismal learning outcomes during school lockdowns. Reports of cheating and declining standards have meanwhile emerged from the nation’s universities as the institutions end remote learning arrangements and return to conventional instruction.

Universities often eliminate standardized testing requirements in order to advance purported racial equity. The permanent end of required standardized exam submissions at Columbia occurs as the Supreme Court may rule against affirmative action, a policy by which universities promote individuals of various minority groups in admissions processes.

Numerous studies have highlighted the disadvantages faced by Asian and white applicants as universities seek to reserve places for black and Hispanic students. One study from 2009 concluded that Asians required an SAT score approximately 140 points higher than white applicants, 270 points higher than Hispanic applicants, and 450 points higher than black applicants, according to a report from the Asian American Coalition for Education.

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