MIT announced on Monday, March 28th, that they would be reinstating their SAT/ACT requirement for applications. The change takes affect for the upcoming admissions cycle for prospective students of the Class of 2027.
This is in stark contrast to other schools which are continuing or fully transitioning to a test-optional policy. For example, the California State University System announced they’d switch to test-blind earlier this year, following in the footsteps of the UC school system.
MIT’s Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services, Stu Schmill, sighted the tests’ predictive powers as the primary reason for the decision.
Based on MIT’s data from the past few years, the SAT and ACT’s better predicted student academic performance than GPA alone.
This finding was in part based on the study performed by the University of California’s Standardized Testing Task Force.
The study found that the results from the SAT and ACT, in conjunction with GPA, predict academic performance better, even when adjusting for socioeconomic factors.
As a result, MIT found that a test-optional policy grew socioeconomic barriers rather than lowered them.
Without consistent access to SAT and ACT test scores, MIT was less able to determine which students were ready for the rigors of their academic life. This was especially true when it came to MIT admissions requirements for Mathematics (MIT requires all students to complete 2 semesters of Calculus and two semesters of Calculus-based Physics).
This is especially true for students whose academics are limited by socioeconomic factors. These students may have been otherwise accepted had they been better able to demonstrate their academic readiness.
Will this make getting into MIT easier?
Most students applying to MIT will see little change. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of students that applied to MIT last year submitted an optional test score. Thus it’s reasonable to assume that a good portion of accepted students also submitted test scores.
If anything, this decision may make things a little easier on students.
Contrary to what most people believed going into the pandemic, most reported SAT/ACT scores were slightly higher than during normal years. Due to schools adopting test-optional policies, most students who worried that their scores were not competitive simply chose not to submit.
This in turn inflated the average accepted SAT/ACT scores. Now, average accepted SAT and ACT scores will likely return to their pre-pandemic levels.
This isn’t to say that getting into MIT will be easy.
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How to increase your chances at MIT
Now that MIT requires test scores once more, it’s important to take the time necessary to prepare for the test. You should start thinking about your SAT/ACT prep plan. I recommend starting with the following guides:
Everything you need to know to plan for the SAT or ACT tests:
SAT and ACT scores are not the only part of your application. Nor are they the most important thing colleges consider. As Schmill states, colleges like MIT don’t value SAT and ACT scores “for their own sake”; they are part of a larger application.