MIT Will Again Require SAT, ACT Scores for Admissions, Citing ‘Very Demanding’ Math Classes

MIT Will Again Require SAT, ACT Scores for Admissions, Citing ‘Very Demanding’ Math Classes
A view of the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 08, 2020. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Bucking the nationwide trend of test-optional college admissions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said it will revive standardized test requirements for future admissions cycles.

Like many other colleges and universities across the United States, MIT in 2020 suspended its SAT and ACT testing requirements due to disruptions caused by the pandemic. In Monday’s announcement, however, the prestigious private institution makes it clear that this policy is not permanent.

“We have—after careful consideration within our office, and with the unanimous support of our student-faculty advisory committee—decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for the foreseeable future,” the school said.

Stuart Schmill, the dean of admissions and student financial services at MIT, argued that taking SAT and ACT scores—especially math scores—into consideration not only “significantly improves” the school’s ability to accurately predict each applicant’s academic success, but also is fair to socioeconomically disadvantaged applicants who lack access to advanced coursework or other opportunities.

“Not having SATs/ACT scores to consider tends to raise socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education,⁠ relative to having them, given these other inequalities,” he wrote in a blog post explaining the decision.

Schmill added that while officials can’t explain exactly why SAT and ACT scores are so predictive on whether a student can do well at MIT, they believe it is likely because of the school’s heavy emphasis on math and math exams.

According to Schmill, all MIT students, regardless of intended major, must complete a series of “very demanding” math and math-based science courses and pass “long, challenging” exams in order to advance. For example, an economics degree at MIT requires at least one course in econometrics, and a philosophy degree at MIT usually entails courses in set theory, modal logic, and paradox and infinity.

“In other words, there is no path through MIT that does not rest on a rigorous foundation in mathematics, and we need to be sure our students are ready for that as soon as they arrive,” Schmill wrote.

MIT now joins a small group of institutions that have either restored their pre-pandemic admissions policies or never went test-optional in the first place. Georgia Institute of Technology, an MIT competitor in the South, announced last May it would once again start requiring standardized test scores for enrollment. In Florida, where school buildings have stayed open since August 2020, the state university system continued to dismiss calls that it should back away from standardized test requirements.

Meanwhile, More than 1,800 colleges have permanently dropped or extended their suspension of SAT or ACT requirements for the upcoming fall 2022 admissions cycle, according to FairTest, an organization advocating against the use of such tests. Among them are schools within the California State University and University of California systems, which collectively enroll nearly 800,000 students.

Bill Pan is an Epoch Times reporter covering education issues and New York news.
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