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Test Optional = More Exclusive

You likely heard the news: Harvard's acceptance rate for the class of 2026 reached an all time low of 3.2%.

Let that number sink in: 3.2%.

Over 61,000 applicants for 1,954 spots.

Harvard also saw an increase in applications by 7% largely due to their test optional policy.

But Harvard isn't the only one. Many top schools, since adopting a test optional policy, continue to see increases in applications. And as applications increase, acceptance rates go down.

What gives? Isn't test optional supposed to be a good thing? Isn't it supposed to reduce the stress around admissions?

I guess not. Just look at the numbers. Getting into top schools is now harder, less predictable and more stressful.

Simply put, that sucks.

So do we go back to test requirements? MIT just announced that it will require test scores for the 2023-24 application cycle and beyond. But UCs and CSUs are test blind.

Can the pendulum swing both ways?

What this means in the short run is that students should work towards taking an SAT or ACT, then submit the score if it is in the range of accepted students for the schools they want. In the long run, the future is less clear. It looks like some schools will be in one of three buckets: test required, test optional or test blind.

Perhaps students building their "balanced" college lists of GPA and affordability should also include a balance of testing requirements.

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