The Return of Standardized Testing

Colleges Reinstating SAT/ACT Requirements in 2024

In the evolving landscape of college admissions, standardized tests (aka. SAT and ACT) have seen fluctuating importance. While many institutions shifted to test-optional policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number are now reinstating these requirements for the 2024 admissions cycle. A few of the salient reasons for the change are as follows:

  1. Rampant grade inflation in the US over the past decade, with over 89% of students receiving an A or B in all subjects (Source: Hechinger)
  2. Lowering of achievement in the same time period, with only 21% of all students in the US meeting benchmarks for college-readiness (Source: NPR)
  3. Equity and Access considerations for talented youth from underrepresented backgrounds tied to scholarship (Source: Boise State)
  4. And finally, Standardized Assessment across the board using valid & reliable college entrance exams that can compare all students from diverse backgrounds. (Source: ERIC)

I called all of the institutions below who have made public their new policies requiring college entrance exams. Here’s a look at the notable colleges and universities that have brought back the SAT/ACT requirement:

Top Institutions Requiring SAT/ACT for 2024 Admissions

Ivy League and Other Prestigious Schools Reinstating SAT/ACT

Starting with the class of 2029, several Ivy League institutions will also require SAT or ACT scores:

  • Harvard University
    Harvard’s return to standardized testing requirements underscores its commitment to a comprehensive review process that includes academic readiness.
  • Yale University
    Yale will again require standardized tests to provide an additional measure of student preparedness and to support a holistic admissions process.
  • Dartmouth College
    Dartmouth reinstates SAT/ACT requirements to ensure a robust evaluation of an applicant’s academic potential.
  • Brown University
    Brown’s policy shift reflects its recognition of standardized tests as a valuable tool in assessing student capabilities.

U.S. Service Academies

The United States service academies, known for their rigorous selection processes, continue to require SAT or ACT scores for admission. These include each main branch of the military:

  • United States Air Force Academy
  • United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • United States Military Academy (West Point)
  • United States Naval Academy

Other Colleges

Many colleges state PUBLICALLY that they are test optional, but the data tells another story altogether. Here are some specific examples, including the percentages of acceptance:

  • University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) – Nursing Program: For the class of 2026, the Pitt Nursing program admitted 77% of students who submitted SAT or ACT scores, compared to only 23% of those who did not submit scores.
  • University of Miami: In the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, the University of Miami’s acceptance rate was approximately 19%. Although Miami states that it is test-optional, about 35% of enrolled students submitted SAT scores and 22% submitted ACT scores. These applicants had average SAT and ACT scores of 1390 and 32, respectively, suggesting a preference for higher-scoring students. (UMiami Undergrad Admission) (UMiami Undergrad Admission) (UnivStats).
  • Boston University (BU):
    BU’s 2022-2023 admissions data revealed that 54% of admitted students submitted SAT or ACT scores, reflecting a stronger acceptance likelihood for those with test scores.

These statistics highlight that, despite test-optional policies, many institutions still exhibit a tendency to favor applicants who submit standardized test scores, reflecting the perceived value of these scores in the admissions process. This trend is important for prospective students to consider when deciding whether or not to include test scores in their applications.

Standardized tests help these academies identify candidates who possess the academic skills necessary for their demanding programs.

So, the BIG question is, should you take the SAT/ACT exams and submit them to colleges? The short answer is a resounding YES, especially if you are looking to apply to T50 colleges or programs in the country. College like University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) heavily favor students WITH SAT/ACT scores for their Computer Science or Engineering programs with an overwhelming 81% acceptance rate for students with test scores, but are decidedly test optional for all other programs with a 59% acceptance rate for students with test scores(source: UIUC).

The Changing Landscape of College Admissions

While many schools are returning to SAT/ACT requirements, it is important to stay informed about the specific policies of each institution, as admissions requirements can change. Prospective students should always verify the current requirements directly on the college’s official website before applying. As the debate over the role of standardized testing in college admissions continues, these institutions believe that the SAT and ACT provide valuable insights into a student’s readiness for college-level work and help maintain high academic standards.


For the most current information, always refer to the official admissions pages of the respective colleges and universities. This ensures you have the latest details on testing requirements and other important admissions criteria. Follow our blog, our instagram @thepittsburghprep or contact us at hello@pittsburghprep.com if you need guidance on test prep.

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