Brown University To Require Standardized Testing For Admissions Again


Brown University will reintroduce standardized testing requirements for admission, aligning with Yale, Dartmouth, and M.I.T. in reversing pandemic-era test-optional policies. This decision, disclosed on Tuesday, will mandate submission of either SAT or ACT scores for the upcoming admissions cycle.

(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Dale182)

Why Go Back?

Brown University stated that standardized test scores serve as clear indicators of future academic success. The university emphasized that SAT and ACT scores are among the key factors predicting a student’s ability to excel in Brown’s rigorous academic environment. Additionally, Brown echoed concerns expressed by Dartmouth and Yale, suggesting that the suspension of test requirements inadvertently disadvantaged prospective students from low-income families. The admissions review committee at Brown highlighted that some students from less-advantaged backgrounds chose not to submit scores under the test-optional policy, potentially impacting their chances of admission.

Applications to highly selective colleges surged during the test-optional period, with Brown receiving over 51,000 applications for its fall 2023 class.

READ ALSO: Yale University Implements 'Test-Flexible' Policy, Allowing AP and IB Exams as Alternatives to SAT and ACT

Is This a Growing Trend?

While Brown University and several other institutions are reintroducing standardized tests, a significant number of colleges and universities are moving towards test-optional or test-blind admissions policies. Advocates of test-optional policies argue that they level the playing field, eliminating advantages held by students from affluent families who can afford expensive test prep courses. Despite the reinstatement of standardized tests, many colleges have opted to maintain test-optional policies even as the pandemic subsides. Columbia and Harvard are among the institutions continuing with test-optional policies, while the University of Michigan has recently transitioned to test-optional admissions.

Moreover, the California university system has implemented a test-blind policy, refraining from considering test scores in admissions decisions, even if they are submitted.

The debate over standardized testing in college admissions continues, with some arguing that these tests are biased and do not accurately reflect a student's potential or ability to succeed in college. Others believe that standardized tests provide valuable information about a student's academic preparedness and are an essential tool for evaluating applicants on a level playing field.

What About Other Admissions Practices?

Brown University's admissions review committee has also considered legacy preferences, wherein the children of alumni receive preferential treatment. While legacy admissions create a sense of community and loyalty among graduates, they raise complex questions about equity and access.

Analyzing admissions data, the committee found that admitting fewer legacy students could potentially lead to increased representation of low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented groups. Despite debates surrounding legacy preferences, Brown intends to retain its early decision admissions program, a practice criticized for favoring students from wealthier families.

RELATED ARTICLE: Dartmouth College Breaks from Ivy League, Reinstates Standardized Testing Requirement

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