In the face of continuing uncertainty and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus and the economy, we want to be helpful in any way we can.
Standardized Testing and Grading
Harvard College will allow students to apply for admission to the Class of 2026 without requiring standardized test scores. We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to create challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds, and we believe this temporary policy addresses these challenges.
Consistent with Harvard’s whole-person admissions process, standardized tests are only one factor among many. Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years – including community involvement, employment, and help given to students’ families are considered as part of our process. However, students who find themselves limited in the activities they can pursue due to the coronavirus outbreak will not be disadvantaged as a result.
Students who do not submit standardized testing this coming year will not be disadvantaged in the application process. Their applications will be considered on the basis of what they have presented, and they are encouraged to send whatever materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future.
Similarly, students who choose to utilize pass/no pass grading systems or whose education has not been graded will not be disadvantaged in the application process. It should be noted, however, that high school grades are correlated with academic success at Harvard. Students may wish to submit grades as one indication of their academic accomplishments. Students who have experienced challenges from COVID-19 affecting some of their grades may still wish to submit other evidence of their academic achievements with explanations of any challenges they faced.
Because standardized test results are used for academic counseling, placement, and institutional research, enrolling students who applied without consideration of tests will be invited to submit test scores over the summer, prior to matriculating at Harvard.
Read more about standardized testing on our Application Requirements page.
Our early action deadline remains November 1. If students wish to submit standardized tests, the November tests will arrive in time for early action consideration. Students should not rush to apply early. As always, there is no advantage to applying early versus regular.
While our regular action deadline will remain January 1 for now, we will monitor the effects of COVID-19 in the coming months and will extend our deadline if necessary. As with early action, we will accept testing that arrives after our deadline, including the currently scheduled February 12, 2022 ACT.
For international students (who may have even fewer opportunities to take American standardized tests), we hope to receive predicted or actual results of national examinations.
As was the case during the economic downturn a decade ago and in similar situations before, our revolutionary financial aid program will not be compromised in any way. The majority of Harvard students - including international students, who receive the same generous financial aid as US students - receive need-based financial aid, and loans are not required. Our office stands ready to help, and students can use our Net Price Calculator to get an estimate of the aid their family would receive.
We wish you well and we hope you will put your own health and safety – and that of your loved ones – as your top priority in the months ahead.