Stanford University Reinstates Test Requirements Effective Fall 2025 Admissions Cycle

Jed Applerouth, PhD
June 10, 2024
min read
SAT test question with "REQUIRED" stamped over it in red letters

Stanford University has become the most recent highly selective college to reinstate testing requirements for all students, beginning with the class of rising juniors. The rationale is simple: the predictive value of admissions testing helps the admissions office build a class academically prepared for the rigors of Stanford: The predictive power of testing was confirmed by "a review by the faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid." This announcement follows that of Cornell, which similarly reinstated test requirements in late April for the class of 2030.

Ivy Plus group recommits to testing  

Stanford joins other members of the IVY Plus group who have returned to test requirements following the compelling research conducted by the Opportunity Insights Group at Harvard University, which revealed testing to be a much more robust predictor of college academic performance than high school GPA. Of the participating group members, MIT, Dartmouth, Yale, Brown, Harvard, Cornell and Stanford have now reinstated test requirements. Duke has reaffirmed its commitment to a test-optional admissions policy, and we await decisions from the admissions offices at Penn, Princeton, Columbia, and Chicago.

The California Question

Given that Caltech and Stanford are back in the test-required camp, it remains to be seen if California will make access to SAT and ACT testing a higher priority. Since the UC System and the California State University System adopted a test blind/free admissions policy, testing access in California has diminished, leading many students seeking testing to have to travel great distances to secure a test. There is a good chance USC could similarly return to test-required admissions in the near term, and this could increase pressure to expand testing access or penalize California students.

Optional, but recommended

Given that the admissions office at Stanford has found testing to be a valuable predictor of academic performance, it is recommended that in the final year of test-optional admissions, students who have competitive test scores include them with their application. Cornell explicitly made that recommendation in their announcement, that “while the submission of SAT and/or ACT scores is optional, it is recommended.” For those applying to Stanford, the same logic applies.

More test requirements to follow

All eyes are on Penn, Princeton, Columbia and Chicago, as their admissions offices contemplate joining their peer schools to reinstate testing. Many other selective private and public schools will follow suit in the coming year and beyond.

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