Tufts Drops SAT Subject-Test Requirement

What was once the norm in competitive college admissions is increasingly rare.

March 12, 2018

Tufts University has announced that it will no longer require the SAT subject tests. The university had been among 10 American colleges to require what had once been standard for admission to competitive colleges.

A statement posted on the university's website said, "Beginning with applicants to the Class of 2023, Tufts requires either the SAT or the ACT. We do not require SAT Subject Tests, the SAT Essay, or the writing section of the ACT; you may submit those scores to Tufts if you choose to sit for these sections, but please note that they are not required and sending them will not increase a student’s likelihood of admission."

The tests, previously called the SAT II or the achievement tests, are subject specific and test knowledge of mathematics, sciences, literature, history and languages.

Karen Richardson, dean of admissions and enrollment management at Tufts, via email offered these reasons for the shift: "We recognized that most universities no longer require the subject tests as part of the testing requirement. There also seemed to be fewer opportunities offered for students to take the subject tests, raising questions of accessibility. Additionally, our institutional research office has determined there is very minimal correlation between performance on the subject tests and a student's performance in first-year classes here."

The colleges that still require the tests of all applicants tend to be math and science oriented, places like California Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Webb Institute -- all institutions where perfect or near-perfect scores on the math SAT are common. These institutions generally require one of the two mathematics tests and one science exam.

Tufts until now had given arts and sciences applicants choices on which subject tests to submit but required mathematics and a science exam for engineering applicants.

Colleges that have been dropping the requirement for subject tests have generally said that they want to decrease the pressure on students, or to encourage more low-income students (who may not want or feel able to pay the fees) to apply, even though the College Board does have a system of awarding fee waivers. The basic fees are $26 to register for a test date at which someone can take one, two or three exams; $21 for each test; and $26 for language tests that include portions in which test takers listen to the language and respond.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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