Why Do Top Colleges and Ivy League Schools Stress on SAT®?


While some colleges and universities have been slowly stepping away from requiring SAT® scores in their admissions process, sending an SAT score can still hold value (especially for top colleges and universities). Before deciding to opt-out of testing, you should know how SAT scores function in the admissions process, why top schools place value on your test scores, and how COVID-19 has impacted students looking to attend Ivy League schools.

Why do colleges ask for SAT scores?
Admissions teams use SAT scores to produce a standardized perspective of an applicant’s academic strengths and weaknesses. Ivy League schools, in particular, want to ensure that you are performing at a high level. In the past, your SAT test performance was used along with your GPA and essay submissions to produce a nuanced interpretation of your qualifications for admission.

Why do top colleges place value on SAT scores?
Some top colleges use SAT scores and GPAs to screen less qualified applicants out of their admissions pool. There is no specific threshold for scoring, but you can get a general idea of each school’s expectations by researching the scores submitted by accepted students in previous years. In 2020, many schools removed the SAT exam from their list of requirements. This change means that sending in an SAT score may be optional or even unnecessary.

Few of the top colleges have temporarily suspended SAT test requirements. It is important to research where the schools you are applying to stand in terms of the importance of the SAT exam.

As many of these changes have been put in place temporarily, it is important to check in with the schools’ admissions requirements when making your decision.

How has COVID-19 impacted the importance of the SAT exam?

The stress and chaos of online learning have resulted in changes, and Ivy League Schools have submitted statements detailing their requirements:

  • SAT test scores are optional in the application process for Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Brown University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College. Your SAT test scores are not required, but if you are able to take the exam and send your scores, it is encouraged. You will not be penalized for not submitting a score.
  • SAT exam scores are optional for the Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Human Ecology, and Industrial and Labor Relations Colleges at Cornell University.
  • SAT exam scores are not required for Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, and both of their Business Colleges.

With smaller capacities at testing locations, it is important to do your best to prepare: you may only get one attempt! You can use UWorld’s SAT online learning tool to prepare for the SAT exam. We offer thousands of practice questions, detailed question explanations, and performance tracking tools to help guide your study plan. Try it out to maximize your scoring potential!

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