Dartmouth becomes first in Ivy League to reinstate SAT/ACT requirement, says research finds it increases diversity

Dartmouth College plans to reinstate a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores.

Dartmouth College plans to reinstate a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores.

The Hannover, New Hampshire college announced that next year’s class of applicants will be required to submit ACT or SAT scores after previously opting for a test-optional admission policy during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Dartmouth found that standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, are a better predictor of future performance than high-school grades.

“I’ve become less convinced that [test] optional is working for us at Dartmouth,” said Lee Coffin, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We’re reanimating the policy based on evidence.”

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Coffin said there have been several instances where he wished that an applicant had one more data point “to confirm what we think is a high-achieving profile.”

In a Monday announcement , Dartmouth said that the change in policy is due to new research.

”A new research study commissioned by Dartmouth President Sian Beilock and conducted by Dartmouth economists Elizabeth Cascio, Bruce Sacerdote and Doug Staiger and educational sociologist Michele Tine confirms that standardized testing—when assessed using the local norms at a student’s high school—is a valuable element of Dartmouth’s undergraduate application,” the press release stated. 

”Their illuminating study found that high school grades paired with standardized testing are the most reliable indicators for success in Dartmouth’s course of study. They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.”

The update went on to assert that “contrary to what some have perceived, standardized testing allows us to admit a broader and more diverse range of students.”

For applications received in fall 2023, the college instituted a “testing recommended” policy, and “set new institutional records for access even as 75 percent of those early acceptances included testing as an element of the application.”

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”We celebrated two early milestones: 22 percent are first-generation college bound and 21 percent qualified for a zero-parent contribution with family incomes and assets at or below $65,000 USD. These outcomes encourage and excite us, and we view contextualized testing as another opportunity to amplify our objective to admit and enroll a broadly heterogenous undergraduate class that is well-prepared to succeed in the curriculum we offer,” the college said.