Reinstating our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles

At MIT Admissions, our mission is to recruit, select, and enroll a diverse and talented group of students who are a good match for MIT’s unique education and culture. Everything we do in our process is grounded by our goal to find and admit students who will succeed at MIT and serve the world afterward.  After…

Reinstating our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles

At MIT Admissions, our mission is to recruit, eliminate out, and stamp up a diverse and talented team of college students who’re a appropriate match for MIT’s gripping education and tradition. The whole lot we attain in our activity is grounded by our design to search out and admit college students who will be triumphant at MIT and support the sector later on

After careful consideration, we now personal got made up our minds to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles. Our study reveals standardized tests abet us better assess the tutorial preparedness of all applicants, and likewise abet us name socioeconomically disadvantaged college students who lack gather correct of entry to to developed coursework or diverse enrichment alternatives that will otherwise sign their readiness for MIT. We imagine a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy. In the post below —  and in a separate dialog with MIT Recordsdata nowadays —  I

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about how we mediate this decision helps us advance our mission. 

After we initially suspended our discovering out requirement because of this of the disruptions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I wrote: 

This used to be no longer a decision we made evenly. Our reliance on these tests is kill consequence-driven and applicant-oriented: we don’t label scores for his or her absorb sake, but easiest to the extent that they abet us manufacture better choices for our school students, which they attain. We on an everyday basis study the outcomes of MIT college students and our absorb admissions requirements to make particular we manufacture appropriate choices for the estimable causes, and we repeatedly to find that taken with performance on the SAT/ACT, in particular the arithmetic section, substantially improves the predictive validity of our choices with appreciate to subsequent pupil success at the Institute.

Within our place of work, we now personal got a dedicated study and diagnosis team that ceaselessly experiences our processes, outcomes, and requirements to make particular we remain mission-driven and pupil-centered. Throughout the pandemic, we redoubled our efforts to realize how we can most spicy review academic readiness for all college students, in particular those most impacted by its attendant disruptions. To briefly summarize a expedient deal of careful study:  

  • our capability to

    accurately predict pupil academic success at MIT02

    Our study reveals this predictive validity holds even whenever you happen to support watch over for socioeconomic factors that correlate with discovering out. It also reveals that appropriate grades in excessive college attain no longer themselves basically translate to academic success at MIT whenever you happen to can’t story for locating out. Of direction, we can never be entirely certain how any given applicant will attain: we’re predicting the constructing of of us, no longer the circulate of planets, and of us ceaselessly surprise you. Nonetheless, our study does abet us assign bands of self assurance that eliminate correct in the aggregate, whereas permitting us, as admissions officers, to express person contextual discretion in every case. The note ‘vastly’ in this bullet point is correct both statistically and idiomatically.

    vastly improved by taken with standardized discovering out — especially in arithmetic — alongside diverse factors 
  • some standardized tests besides the SAT/ACT can abet us review readiness, but gather correct of entry to to these diverse tests is continually

    more socioeconomically restricted03

    Examples of those diverse tests encompass the AP/IB tests, world curricula cherish the IGCSEs, or the mathematical olympiads. Nonetheless, gather correct of entry to to these examinations normally rely on what is out there at your excessive college, and there are massive disparities between faculties in this regard, and even inner faculties evidently college students.

    relative to the SAT/ACT
  • because of this, no longer having SATs/ACT scores to support in tips tends to

    elevate socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education,04

    Even supposing our diagnosis is suppose to MIT, our findings directionally align with a vital survey conducted by the College of California’s Standardized Trying out Job Power, which chanced on that along with SAT/ACT scores predicted undergraduate performance better than grades on my own, and likewise helped admissions officers name properly-ready college students from less-advantaged backgrounds. It is normally per self reliant study compiled by education researcher Susan Dynarski that reveals standardized discovering out will also be an efficient technique to name talented disadvantaged college students who would otherwise trot unrecognized. Of direction, there’ll most likely be establishments for whom this study does no longer eliminate correct, but the findings are very grand for MIT, and had been for many, decades.

    relative to having them, given these diverse inequalities

Our study can’t show cowl why these tests are so predictive of educational preparedness for MIT, but we imagine it’s most likely connected to the centrality of arithmetic — and arithmetic examinations — in our education. All MIT college students, despite supposed vital, must pass two semesters of calculus, plus two semesters of calculus-based mostly entirely physics,

as segment of our General Institute Requirements.05

The GIRs are both a defining energy of the MIT education, and likewise the realistic constraint on gather correct of entry to to it. Because all MIT undergraduates, no topic their vital, must pass energetic lessons in calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry — moreover a rigorous humanistic and dialog requirement — we imagine we can easiest responsibly admit college students who’re ready to realize all of that work, across all of those fields, at their time of entry to MIT. It is vulnerable to be worth noting that the GIRs are also basically the most neatly-liked point of entry in every of those fields: MIT does no longer supply any remedial math lessons ‘below’ the extent of single-variable calculus, as an instance, or physics courses ‘below’ classical mechanics, so college students favor to be ready to manufacture at that level and spin after they approach.

The substance and spin of those courses are both very anxious, and so that they culminate in

prolonged, energetic closing tests that college students must pass06

To boot to to closing tests in the GIRs, first-twelve months college students also normally absorb several diverse tests. Most faculty students also must absorb a separate math diagnostic test for physics placement as rapidly as they approach on campus, and placement out of MIT lessons is mostly granted via our Developed Standing Checks, in map of by AP or transfer credit ranking. As a member of our school as soon as seen to me, “the first twelve months at MIT is frequently a series of excessive-stakes math tests.” Given this, it’s in all chance no longer gorgeous that the SAT/ACT are predictive (indeed, it might perchance be more gorgeous if they weren’t).


proceed with their education.07

The overwhelming majority of MIT college students will then trot on to raise many extra quantitative and analytical courses inner their program of survey, even though they save no longer appear to be majoring in science or engineering. As an instance, an economics level at MIT requires no longer decrease than one direction in econometrics, and a philosophy level at MIT normally entails courses in map theory, modal good judgment, and/or infinities and paradox). To a level unlike nearly any diverse institution, MIT is a map where every pupil must attain a lot of math (and math tests).

In diverse phrases, there’s no longer any course via MIT that does no longer leisure on a rigorous foundation in arithmetic, and we would like to make particular our school students are ready for that

as rapidly as they approach.08

A reader might perchance moderately demand: properly, can’t MIT attain more to bring college students up to the stamp? Why are you most desirous about college students who you mediate can already attain properly, and no longer those that might perchance furthermore, if they’d more abet? To make certain, all individuals will to find MIT a field, no topic how properly-ready. And MIT does provide give a enhance to for its college students via its very estimable tutoring programs, affinity networks, give a enhance to products and services, different curricula, summer programs, and so forth. Nonetheless, our study reveals there’s a level of preparation below which a pupil, even with those property, isn’t any longer going with a purpose to be triumphant. We feel it’s our responsibility to manufacture those refined calls, and easiest admit a pupil to MIT if they are ready to undertake its education at this point of their educational constructing. In the meantime, we continue to collaborate with our partners in Okay-12 education to determine out and abet interrupt chronic, intergenerational inequality where and how we can.


To make certain, performance on standardized tests isn’t any longer the central point of interest of our holistic admissions activity. We attain no longer eliminate of us with estimable scores; indeed, despite what some of us infer from our statistics, we attain no longer support in tips an applicant’s scores at all past the point where preparedness has been established as segment of a multifactor diagnosis. Nor are sturdy scores themselves enough: our study reveals college students also favor to realize properly in excessive college and personal a grand match for MIT, along with the resilience to rebound from its challenges, and the initiative to manufacture employ of its property. That’s why we don’t eliminate out college students completely on how properly they ranking on the tests, but easiest support in tips scores to the extent they

abet us feel more confident about an applicant’s preparedness09

It is worth noting that since MIT opened in 1865, and unless our public-properly being driven suspension in 2020, MIT has required some more or less entrance exam to sign mastery of the sector topic required to reach our education. As our blogger CJ has documented, at the founding, applicants had been required to existing competence in “arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English grammar, geography, and the rudiments of French” on an entrance examination designed and administered by the Institute. These tests enable applicants to existing their capability to be triumphant at MIT despite what used to be on hand at the excessive college they’ll furthermore personal attended, and finally transitioned to similar tests equipped by the College Board by the 1940s, which evolved over time into the less complicated map of tests we now personal got nowadays. So there’s a prolonged history of MIT tailoring its admissions requirements to pragmatic assessments of what’s required to realize properly at the Institute.

to no longer staunch to live on, but thrive, at MIT. 

At the identical time, standardized tests also

abet us name academically ready, socioeconomically disadvantaged college students who might perchance furthermore no longer otherwise sign readiness10

This might perchance furthermore seem cherish a counterintuitive claim to some, given the frequent realizing that performance on the SAT/ACT is correlated with socioeconomic station. Be taught indeed reveals some correlation, but sadly, study also reveals correlations eliminate for staunch about every diverse part admissions officers can support in tips, along with essays, grades, gather correct of entry to to developed coursework (moreover alternatives to the truth is absorb notionally on hand coursework), and letters of solutions, among others. In the meantime, study has shown frequent discovering out can name subaltern college students who might perchance be left out by these diverse measures. Of direction, this residence of research is complex and contested, but the vital point is that for every aspect of every application, we ceaselessly personal to alter for context: as without a doubt one of the papers I linked above notes, “college admission protocols must wait on to how social class is…encoded in non-numerical parts of functions.” In the meantime, the predictive validity of those tests for MIT, coupled with their capability to name (some) college students who would no longer otherwise be ‘picked up’ by diverse indicators, plan that we’re in a region to make employ of them to abet diversify our class higher than if we didn’t support in tips them.

because they attain no longer wait on faculties that supply developed coursework, can’t manage to pay for pricey enrichment alternatives, can’t assign a question to prolonged letters of advice from their overburdened academics, or are otherwise

hampered by educational inequalities.11

In neatly-liked, we mediate it’s excessive that the MIT education does no longer simply and unthinkingly reproduce an educational elite who personal already had colossal gather correct of entry to to property. In our activity, we attain no longer give preference to legacies, nor weight to demonstrated hobby, nor an profit to of us who voice via our (non-binding and non-restrictive) Early Action activity, nor diverse issues that subtly correlate with socioeconomic profit but are unrelated to a pupil’s capability to realize properly at MIT. And after we overview functions, we ceaselessly strive to mediate every pupil’s accomplishments in context: we don’t care as great about what a pupil has finished as what they’ve finished relative to what might perchance had been anticipated, given their property. Per study printed in the Original York Times a pair of years previously, there’s more financial vary and intergenerational mobility at MIT than at similar establishments (even though no longer barely as great as at some public establishments that deserve colossal credit ranking and recognition for his or her work); nearly about 20 percent of our school students are the first-generation of their family to wait on college, as I was. We clearly personal room to realize better, and we mediate the tests will abet us continue to make stronger.

By utilizing the

tests as a instrument12

We know they are corrupt instruments, clearly. Checks can’t measure the whole lot that is excessive about an applicant’s creativity, curiosity, or drive. But because all of our instruments are corrupt, we now personal got to story for all of their imperfections in our activity. Right here’s what makes admissions something a expert human does, and no longer something amenable to a straightforward algorithm crunching numbers. Given all these imperfections, might perchance we in the future personal better instruments at our disposal? I’m hoping so. I without a doubt personal supported reform initiatives such because the Mastery Transcript, performance assessments, and certifications. For a pair of years, we now personal got allowed college students to put up artistic portfolios — along with our Maker Portfolio for technical creativity — to sign gripping pursuits and aptitudes no longer basically captured of their grades and scores. Nonetheless, these different assessments are no longer yet broadly on hand to varsity students across the socioeconomic spectrum (relative to the SAT/ACT), and we attain no longer yet personal the study that will enable us to exchange them for the tests as a predictor of success at MIT even though they had been. We can continue our advocacy and study in these areas, but for now, we to find we aloof favor to rely on mature indicators cherish grades and scores, no longer decrease than to some level.

in the provider of our mission, we now personal got helped 

make stronger the vary of our undergraduate inhabitants13

What it technique to “make stronger vary” is a elaborate ask. As we’re announcing in our vary assertion: “How great vary is valuable to create our targets? Every pupil must feel that ‘there are of us cherish me right here’ and ‘there are of us diverse from me right here.’ No pupil must feel remoted; all college students must reach into contact with individuals of diverse teams and ride them as colleagues with precious tips and insights.” For our functions right here, by “making improvements to vary” we mean we work to make stronger the recruitment and enrollment of properly-matched and academically ready college students from a vary of below-represented populations, along with college students of coloration, low-earnings college students, and college students who might perchance be the first generation of their family to head to varsity.. We also label the vary contributed by our many ‘Original American citizens’: a majority of MIT college students are both immigrants themselves, or the child of no longer decrease than one immigrant parent, and we imagine their experiences and perspectives give a enhance to MIT as properly.


pupil academic outcomes at MIT personal gotten better,14

As an instance, rising commencement rates across all demographic teams, and fewer college students receiving fifth week flags or otherwise subjected to academic overview, staunch in relation to issues we can straightforwardly measure.

too; our strategic and purposeful employ of discovering out has been mandatory to

doing both simultaneously.15

Previously, we now personal got publicly described this simultaneity — more diverse, and doing better — as there being no important tradeoff between vary and merit, as some sadly aloof appear to imagine. Of direction, in contemporary discussions of educational equity, your whole belief of “merit” — which appears as a key phrase in our mission assertion — has been critiqued as merely laundering intergenerational privilege. Nonetheless, what we mean by “merit” in this context is something cherish: “someone who we mediate will attain thoroughly at MIT, and on this planet later on, based mostly entirely on what they’ve finished with their alternatives, relative to what we might perchance well personal anticipated given those property.” In diverse phrases, it’s outlined pragmatically and contextually for the specific wants of, and targets for, an MIT education, and is not any longer supposed to pass universal judgment of who “deserves” or has “earned” our education. In the meantime, our study suggests the strategic employ of discovering out can abet us continue to make stronger both the vary of our class and its collective success at MIT. The pandemic has easiest made this more certain, because study room work and review had been staunch as disrupted as gather correct of entry to to the tests, if no longer more so, and for longer periods of time, disproportionately affecting basically the most socioeconomically disadvantaged college students. We know that the pandemic’s results on grades and courses will linger for years, but the tests can provide college students a more moderen different to existing that they’ve made up lost ground.


Like every of you, we had hoped that, by now, the pandemic might perchance be slow us. It is no longer, nor is it certain if or when this might perchance occasionally be. Nonetheless, the availability of vaccines for children has diminished the properly being risks of in-person educational actions, whereas the

growth of the free in-college SAT,16

Which is how a majority of college students in the United States now absorb the SAT.

and the
coming near near Digital SAT, personal elevated alternatives to raise the tests. Given the mandatory role these tests play in our activity, we now personal got — after careful consideration inner our place of work, and with the unanimous give a enhance to of our pupil-college advisory committee — made up our minds to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement

for the foreseeable future.17

We know that right here’s reducing in opposition to the sizzling constructing toward test-optional insurance policies. Nonetheless, for causes I’ve outlined above, the tests severely abet us in our efforts to stamp up a various and talented class. I direct “for the foreseeable future” because we imagine this policy is basically the most spicy plan for us to fulfill our mission given the facts on the ground as they are now, but also to acknowledge — because the pandemic has many cases taught us — that typically those facts alternate. We can continue to analyze all of our practices and outcomes to make particular we remain centered on our mission, and no longer the tests themselves. As an instance, a pair of years previously we made the choice to stop taken with the SAT Topic tests in our activity. As I wrote at the time, we did this because our study confirmed the marginal extra profit of the sector tests (in relation to predicting academic outcomes) used to be no longer definitely worth the costs of gather correct of entry to in relation to recruiting and enrolling our desired class (as prolonged as we might perchance furthermore aloof support in tips the SAT/ACT), because exogenous patterns of test-taking had changed. This optimistically helps show cowl how we take into story our study informing our voice, guided by our values.

We’re reinstating our requirement, in map of adopting a more versatile policy, to be transparent and equitable in our expectations. Our field is that, without the compelling clarity of a requirement, some properly-ready applicants obtained’t absorb the tests, and

we obtained’t personal enough recordsdata to be confident of their academic readiness18

Another time, our study suggests right here’s most correct for our most disadvantaged applicants, whose diverse educational alternatives had been most disrupted by the outcomes of the pandemic.

after they voice. We imagine this might perchance occasionally be

more equitable19

By requiring all individuals put up the tests, we prick the socioeconomic profit of college students who personal gather correct of entry to to better advising about strategic ranking disclosure, whereas guaranteeing that college students with less gather correct of entry to to such advising are no longer left anxiously at center of the night, wondering what they favor to realize. This dynamic is why, when we stopped taken with the SAT Topic Checks, we didn’t transfer to a test-optional policy, but as a exchange adopted what is frequently known as a “test-free” policy, where we attain no longer solicit them from applicants, and proactively absorb away them from leer when self-reported.

if we require all applicants who absorb the tests to pronounce their scores. 

So, whenever you happen to are applying to MIT in a roundabout plan, we can typically assign a question to you to put up an SAT or ACT ranking. For of us that are unable to raise the tests because of this of a anxiety or disruption, because the SAT/ACTs

are (aloof) unavailable or unsafe to raise20

To boot to to disruptions prompted by pure disasters, political instability, and navy conflicts, we know the pandemic continues, and no longer all individuals across the sector has been in a region to be vaccinated yet, or is able to mount an sufficient immune response. Please attain no longer endanger your self or your loved ones to take a seat for these tests. For of us that might perchance well furthermore personal to personal to demand your self whether or no longer you are in hazard, express the precautionary principle and retract the respond is certain.

to your location, or for one other distinctive reason, we can provide you with map on the appliance to show cowl your conditions, and we can aloof grant you a plump and dazzling overview. In such cases, we isn’t any longer going to manufacture any adversarial presumptions relating to your academic readiness based mostly entirely completely on the absence of SAT/ACT scores, but will as a exchange plot upon the teachings we now personal got realized at some stage in the pandemic to manufacture basically the most spicy, most told decision we can by

fastidiously assessing diverse academic functions of your application.21

Primarily based mostly totally on our study from the pandemic, a truly grand parts to sign academic readiness in the absence of SAT/ACT scores might perchance be diverse standardized tests, such because the AP/IB/AICE tests in the United States, or (inter)nationwide examinations such because the IGCSE, CAPE, WASSCE, KCSE, French Baccalaureate, Abitur, International Science Olympiads, and so forth out of the country.


I realize that this announcement might perchance furthermore dread some readers for whom the tests normally is a source of stress. As someone whose daughters went via the college admissions activity over the outdated few years, I

saw firsthand22

It used to be refined enough for them, and so that they’d a Dean of Admissions for a dad!


horror they will map off.23

No longer easiest a stress but a burden — one other thing to survey for, and time table, and attain. We strive to raise away barriers from applicants wherever we can, and mediate of the tests as a bridge for causes I described above, but clearly, infrastructures are relational: a bridge functions as a barrier whenever you happen to can’t unsuitable it. For that reason, we continue to work with the College Board, Khan Academy’s tutoring team, and diverse companies and establishments to prick burdens, and pave paths, as great as most likely from our region.

I’ve heard from many candidates (and their of us) that requiring the tests can manufacture it feel cherish we easiest care about a quantity, and no longer the person slow it. I also realize that our emphasis on academic preparedness in this post might perchance manufacture an applicant who does no longer ranking properly feel inadequate, or cherish we mediate less of them as a pupil or an person. 

To those of you who feel this plan I direct: you are no longer your test scores, and for that topic, you are also no longer your MIT application, both. You are infinitely more than both of those slim constructs might perchance furthermore ever expend. After we talk about about evaluating academic readiness for MIT, that doesn’t mean we’re measuring your academic doable, or intrinsic worth as a human. It best most likely plan that we’re confident you, at this suppose 2nd to your educational trajectory, can attain properly in the more or less energetic math and science tests demanded by our routine education. Every twelve months, we

turn down24

Every so continually we attain no longer admit college students because we’re alive to about their academic preparation, or match for MIT; given the energy of our applicant pool, even though, it’s more typically the case we mediate they can attain the work, but we simply don’t personal the map to confess your whole properly-certified and properly-matched college students who voice.

many eminent applicants — of us we mediate are the truth is awesome — who trot on to
thrive in utterly different locations. Have in mind: your MIT decision is never about us passing judgment on you as an person, staunch about us contingently deciding on a suppose team of of us, at a suppose point in time, to raise nearly about MIT, together. 

We’re announcing this decision now to supply the most likely Class of 2027 (and past) time to prepare for his or her tests and otherwise manufacture their college application plans. In the intervening time, we can continue to welcome the newly admitted Class of 2026 —  especially at our first in-person Campus Preview Weekend since 2019 subsequent week —  and favor all of you a healthy and contented 2022.  

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Patient with both friends and enemies,
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