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7 Reasons Harvard & Yale Reinstated SAT Test Requirements

As the Founder & CEO of Prep Expert, I have dedicated my career to helping students maximize their potential on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. The recent decisions by institutions such as Harvard and Yale to reinstate these exams as requirements for admission signal a pivotal shift towards restoring a more meritocratic system in college admissions. Here’s why this move is not only a positive one, but also essential for ensuring fairness and equal opportunity in the college admissions process.

#1 Reinforcing Meritocracy in College Admissions

The reintroduction of standardized tests as a core requirement is an affirmation of a commitment to merit-based admissions. These tests provide a common metric for evaluating all applicants, irrespective of their high school’s resources or the variability in grading systems. For instance, studies have shown that standardized test scores correlate with first-year college GPA, with correlation coefficients typically around 0.5, indicating a moderate to strong predictive value.

#2 Addressing Biases of Test-Optional Policies

The test-optional movement, though well-intentioned, has inadvertently created hurdles for low-income and underprivileged students. For example, data shows that 25% of high-achieving, low-income students do not submit test scores when optional, which contrasts with only 6% of high-achieving, high-income students.

#3 Challenges with GPA as a Sole Metric

Grade inflation has become a significant issue, complicating the use of GPA as the sole metric of student achievement. As grades become less standardized, it’s increasingly difficult for admissions officers to gauge a student’s true academic abilities. Research indicates that over the past two decades, the average high school GPA has inflated from approximately 2.68 to 3.38, without a corresponding increase in SAT scores, suggesting that GPAs are becoming less reliable indicators of student preparedness.

#4 Predictive Value of Standardized Tests

Standardized test scores are strong predictors of college success. These tests assess critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills essential for higher education. For example, SAT scores have been shown to predict not only first-year college GPA but also college graduation rates, with predictive validity coefficients often above 0.4, indicating a substantial relationship.

#5 Balancing Subjective Components of Applications

College admissions often involve subjective components like personal essays and interviews, which can be influenced by personal biases. Standardized tests provide a quantitative measure that helps balance these subjective assessments, providing a more comprehensive view of an applicant’s capabilities. This approach is supported by data that illustrate how standardized tests can mitigate biases inherent in more subjective application components.

#6 Enhancing Access to Educational Resources

The availability of free or low-cost test preparation resources has democratized access to study materials, making it possible for students from diverse backgrounds to prepare for these exams effectively.

#7 Facilitating Scholarship and Financial Aid Decisions

Many scholarship and financial aid programs use standardized test scores as eligibility criteria. These scores offer a straightforward way to identify deserving candidates, ensuring that financial support is awarded based on merit and potential. Research has shown that students with higher standardized test scores are more likely to receive academic scholarships, with data indicating that each 100-point increase in SAT scores increases scholarship potential by approximately 3%.

The decision to reintegrate standardized tests like the SAT and ACT into college admissions criteria by top-tier institutions like Harvard and Yale is not only a nod to traditional practices, but a response to the complexities and unintended consequences of test-optional policies. These schools aim to maintain fairness and rigor in their admissions process, ensuring that all students, regardless of background, have an equitable opportunity to demonstrate their potential. At Prep Expert, we continue to support students in preparing for these tests, equipping them with the necessary skills to excel and achieve their college admissions goals.

Dr. Shaan Patel, MD, MBA is the Founder & CEO of Prep Expert (winner of a Shark Tank deal with Mark Cuban), a #1 bestselling author, and a board-certified dermatologist.

Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Written by Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Prep Expert Founder & CEO

Shark Tank Winner, Perfect SAT Scorer, Dermatologist, & #1 Bestselling Author
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