Stanford Brings Back Standardized Testing

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Stanford University has announced it will reinstate the requirement for standardized testing — either the SAT or ACT — for undergraduate admission starting with students applying in fall 2025. The university will remain test-optional for students applying this fall, allowing adequate time for students to prepare for the testing changes.

According to a review by the faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid, standardized test performance is a significant predictor of academic success at the university. The renewed requirement aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of each applicant’s potential. 

This decision marks a shift from the test-optional policy adopted in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted access to testing facilities.

Stanford’s move aligned with other institutions, such as Harvard University and Yale University, that have also reinstated their testing requirements. Other institutions, including the University of California System, however, have permanently eliminated standardized test requirements, highlighting a diverse range of policies across higher education.

The holistic admissions process at Stanford remains unchanged, with academic potential as the primary criterion for acceptance. This process considers all aspects of an application, including grades, extracurricular activities, personal statements, and test scores. 

College advisors have noted that the reinstatement of testing requirements is part of a broader response to the challenges posed by the pandemic and the increasing number of applicants with high grades. This change aims to help the admission office manage the surge in applicants and better identify students’ academic capabilities.

While the return of standardized tests is significant for elite universities, some experts suggest that most colleges, especially less selective ones, may not revert to mandatory testing due to enrollment challenges and affordability concerns.