Why did Harvard decide to require standardized testing again?

Frequently Asked Questions


The decision to return to requiring testing was motivated by a number of important new insights, including research led by Harvard faculty members that confirms the role of standardized testing to help predict college and post-college success for students, including those from less-resourced backgrounds, particularly when considered together with other academic credentials. We also know that, when given the choice, many applicants choose not to submit scores. This can disadvantage some students, including low-income and minority applicants, who also may be disadvantaged in other aspects of their application because of lack of academic opportunity.

More information about an applicant, especially such strongly predictive information, can be valuable. Reinstating a testing requirement will bring important and consistent information back into the admissions process. In Harvard’s whole-person review process, testing is just one data point among many considered carefully with the expertise of the admissions committee.

We recognize that this requirement brings certain challenges. Access to testing should never prevent a student from applying to Harvard. In addition to providing alternative test options for those who cannot access the SAT or ACT, Harvard College Admissions provides information on sources for no-cost tutoring and test preparation.