The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that it will once again require that applicants submit ACT and SAT scores when applying to the prestigious institution.
MIT’s Dean of Admissions and student financial services Stuart Schmill said in an interview with MIT News that testing would return and scores will be considered in applications.
Testing requirements were dropped during the height of the COVID pandemic, according to MIT News, due to the inability of applicants to appear in person for testing.
“We are reinstating our requirement in order to be transparent and equitable in our expectations. Our concern is that, without the compelling clarity of a requirement, some well-prepared applicants won’t take the tests, and we won’t have enough information to be confident in their academic readiness when they apply.”
“We believe it will be more equitable — and less anxiety-inducing — if we require all applicants who take the tests to disclose their scores, rather than ask each student to strategically guess whether or not to send them to us,” he added.
He said that the school “cannot reliably predict students will do well at MIT unless we consider standardized test results alongside grades, coursework, and other factors.”
“These findings are statistically robust and stable over time and hold when you control for socioeconomic factors and look across demographic groups. And the math component of the testing turns out to be most important,” he continued.
He went on to say that there could be exceptions made for students who cannot be assessed due to “extenuating circumstances,” though students will be required to explain why they cannot take the test.
“…We will not hold the lack of exam against them. We will instead use other factors in their application to assess preparation as best we can, but with one less tool in our kit in their case,” Schmill continued.
Schmill said that concerns around structural barriers for socioeconomically disadvantaged and/or “underrepresented students.”
He said that “MIT Admissions has a strong commitment to diversity, and it is important to us that we minimize unfair barriers to our applicants wherever possible.”
“However, what we have found is that the way we use the SAT/ACT increases access to MIT for students from these groups relative to other things we can consider,” he said.
He said that this was due to “educational inequality impacts all aspects of a prospective student’s preparation and application, not just test-taking.”
“As I wrote, low-income students, underrepresented students of color, and other disadvantaged populations often do not attend schools that offer advanced coursework (and if they do, they are less likely to be able to take it),” Schmill told MIT News.
“They often cannot afford expensive enrichment opportunities, cannot expect lengthy letters of recommendation from their overburdened teachers, or cannot otherwise benefit from this kind of educational capital. Meanwhile, we know that the pandemic was most disruptive to our least-resourced students, who may have had no consistent coursework or grading for nearly two years now.”