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Are Standardized Tests Making a Comeback? Insights for Aspiring College Students

In an educational landscape that has seen significant shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of standardized testing in college admissions is once again at the forefront of discussions.

Ari Freuman

on February 13, 2024

The Pendulum Swings Back

This week, Dartmouth College, a prestigious member of the Ivy League, announced a pivotal change: the reinstatement of SAT or ACT scores as a requirement for applicants. This move marks a departure from the trend during the pandemic, where many institutions, including Dartmouth, had opted to make these tests optional. The debate over the necessity and fairness of standardized tests like the SAT and ACT is not new. However, Dartmouth’s decision, backed by an internal study suggesting these scores enhance the construction of an incoming class, adds a fresh layer to the conversation. Could this signal a broader shift among elite institutions towards re-embracing standardized testing?

The Argument for Standardized Testing

Dartmouth’s study posits that standardized test scores are instrumental in identifying promising students from diverse backgrounds, particularly those from less-resourced environments who might be overlooked in a test-optional admissions process. This perspective challenges the narrative that test-optional policies inherently level the playing field.

Moreover, other notable institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University, have also reverted to requiring test scores. This raises questions about the potential for a domino effect among other prestigious schools, gradually moving away from the test-optional stance adopted during the pandemic’s peak.

The Equity Debate

The counterargument to required testing focuses on equity. Critics argue that standardized tests advantage those who can afford multiple attempts and expensive preparatory resources, thus perpetuating inequality. Organizations like FairTest advocate for test-optional or test-free policies as steps toward a more equitable admissions landscape, citing increases in applications from disadvantaged groups under such policies.

Yet, some experts argue that even in a test-optional scenario, submitting test scores can give applicants an advantage, suggesting that admissions processes still implicitly favor those who can present strong standardized test performances.

Looking Forward

As we navigate the evolving dynamics of college admissions, the discussion around standardized tests is far from settled. While some advocate for a complete shift away from these assessments, others see their potential for uncovering talent across diverse backgrounds.

At Ivy Tutor, we understand the complexities of preparing for college admissions. Whether standardized tests remain a staple of the process or not, our commitment is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel. We offer comprehensive test prep services tailored to the SAT and ACT, ensuring our students are not only prepared for the tests themselves but also for the broader challenges of the college admissions journey.

As the debate continues, we remain dedicated to providing personalized test prep and college advising services to help our students navigate the complexities of college admissions. In a world where the only constant is change, preparation is key.

Navigating the Future Together

Whether standardized tests are poised for a comeback or will gradually fade into the background of the admissions process, Ivy Tutor is here to support students every step of the way. We encourage our students and their families to engage in ongoing discussions about educational equity, test preparation, and the myriad factors that contribute to college admissions success.

Stay tuned to our blog for the latest insights, strategies, and support as you embark on your college preparation journey. Together, we can navigate the ever-changing landscape of higher education admissions.


Ari Freuman

Ari began his journey into test prep while working on his Master’s degree in Psychology at SUNY New Paltz and continued through his second Master’s in Statistics. Thanks to insights from his graduate-level studies, Ari became one of the top private tutors in the New York metropolitan era, where he earned a reputation as the original “Ivy Tutor.” Ari decided to create Ivy Tutor when he realized how difficult it was, at any price point, to find tutors who could reliably help students reach their scoring potential.


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