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Harvard Will Require Test Scores for Admission

Harvard will reinstate standardized testing as a requirement of admission, the university announced Thursday, becoming the latest in a series of highly competitive universities to reverse their test-optional policies.

Students applying to Harvard in fall 2025 and beyond will be required to submit SAT or ACT scores, though the university said a few other test scores will be accepted in “exceptional cases,” including Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests. The university had previously said it was going to keep its test-optional policy through the entering class of fall 2026.

Harvard was one of nearly 2,000 colleges across the country that dropped test score requirements over the last few years, a trend that escalated during the pandemic when it was harder for students to get to test sites.

Dropping test score requirements was widely viewed as a tool to help diversify admissions, by encouraging poor and underrepresented students who had potential but did not score well on the tests to apply. But supporters of the tests have said without scores, it became harder to identify promising students who outperformed in their environments.

In explaining its decision to accelerate the return to testing, Harvard cited a study by Opportunity Insights, which found that test scores were a better predictor of academic success in college than high school grades and that they can help admissions officers identify highly talented students from low income groups who might otherwise had gone unnoticed.

“Standardized tests are a means for all students, regardless of their background and life experience, to provide information that is predictive of success in college and beyond,” Hopi Hoekstra, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, said in a statement announcing the move.

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