HKS Affiliated Authors

Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy, HKS; Professor of Education and Economics, HGSE


March 7, 2024, Opinion: "In the past five weeks, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown have all announced that they would once again require applicants to submit standardized-test scores, ending an experiment that began in 2020. Hundreds of colleges made test scores optional during the pandemic, when COVID forced the SAT and ACT to shut down temporarily. Even after the pandemic receded, however, most stuck with their test-optional policies, ostensibly on equity grounds. Some elite institutions, including Emory and Vanderbilt, have recently announced extensions to their test-optional policies. Others, such as the University of California system, have sworn off even considering test scores. Critics argue that the SAT and ACT are biased against disadvantaged students, and just one more way for children of wealth and privilege to get an unfair advantage. And yet Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown all made the exact opposite claim in their announcements. They say that bringing back testing will allow them to do a better job of identifying and admitting talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds."