Half of Ivy League schools lower their admissions standards

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of numerous SAT administrations across the United States.

Cornell, Dartmouth,Columbia, and UPenn suspended their standardized testing requirements for students applying in the 2020-21 school year.

Joining Cornell University, Dartmouth College, and Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania became the fourth Ivy League school to amend standardized testing policies for 2020-21 undergraduate admissions. 

According to an announcement from Dean of Admissions Eric Furda, the university will evaluate students “on an individual basis, consistent with our belief in a comprehensive, whole-person review process.” The decision follows the College Board announcing that it will amend its testing schedules in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

In April, the College Board stated that it would plan a version of the SAT available for at-home administration; however, the nonprofit test developer scrapped those plans after being sued by students who experienced technical difficulties while taking online Advanced Placement exams.

[RELATED: Colleges nationwide suspend ACT/SAT admissions requirements]

In April — before the College Board’s issues with the AP exams — Cornell announced a similar policy, stating that “students seeking to enroll at Cornell University beginning in August 2021 can submit their applications without including the results from ACT or SAT exams.”  However, Cornell will consider standardized testing a “meaningful differentiator” for students who “live near or attend a school that will be open, and where testing will be offered” or “have not experienced lost income for one or more of their household providers.”

For the 2020-21 applicant cohort, Columbia is encouraging students to submit exam results, but announced that “testing is no longer a required component… and students who are unable or choose not to submit test scores will not be disadvantaged.” Dartmouth College later followed suit, calling attention to students whose access to standardized testing would be compromised by severe outbreaks in their region. 

[RELATED: First Ivy League school drops SAT/ACT requirement because of pandemic]

Lee Coffin, the school’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, explained that the policy that typically “standardized testing offers useful statistical context for the holistic evaluation of a student’s academic record.” Yet, he recognizes that this moment in history is “not normal.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft