Cornell Walks Back Decision To Remove Standardized Testing Requirement

(Photo by Matt Burkhartt/Getty Images)

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Cornell University announced Monday that it would be reinstating standardized testing four years after axing the requirement.

The university removed the requirement for standardized testing in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, however, multiple schools have begun bringing the tests back for the admissions process and Cornell announced that as of fall 2026 scores will be required for those “seeking undergraduate admission.” (RELATED:  Harvard Reverses Course, Brings Back Standardized Testing)

Many universities opted to remove the requirement due to concerns about how the tests created undue hardship for minorities, those who did not speak English and lower-income families, according to NBC News.

“While it may seem counterintuitive, considering these test scores actually promotes access to students from a wider range of backgrounds and circumstances,” Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said in the announcement. “Our analysis indicates that instituting the testing requirement likely enhances, rather than diminishes, our ability to identify and admit qualified students.”

ITHACA, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 3: Cornell University students walk through campus on November 3, 2023 in Ithaca, New York. (Photo by Matt Burkhartt/Getty Images)

The announcement noted that prospective students for the 2025 fall semester do not have to submit an ACT or SAT score for their application but strongly encouraged them to do so. The decision was reached after the university’s Task Force on Standardized Testing in Admissions submitted its findings and revealed that testing gave a “more complete picture” of a potential student.

Harvard also announced on April 11 that the following “year’s admission cycle” would also reintroduce standardized testing after the Ivy League university did away with the requirement in June 2020. Dartmouth, Brown University, Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have also brought back testing requirements for applications.

“Analyzing admissions since 2020, the task force found that when reviewed in context with other application materials, such as GPA, academic rigor, extracurricular engagement, essays and letters of recommendation, test scores help to create a more complete picture of an individual applicant,” the announcement reads. “Though standardized test scores are imperfect measures of a student’s aptitude and potential, the data suggests that when taken in context, these scores provide valuable insights into a student’s potential for academic success while at Cornell, and thereby help to ensure that admitted students are likely to thrive academically.”

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