Another Ivy brings back SAT, ACT scores. Will University of Delaware stay test-optional?

Yale University just became the latest school to reverse course on its test optional policy this week — set to require test scores from applicants beginning with fall 2025 admission.

The Thursday announcement makes Yale the second Ivy League school to take the same step. Dartmouth also said it would return to testing requirements earlier this month, citing findings that high-scoring low-income students often declined to submit their numbers. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown have also brought back test scores since pandemic cooldown.

Yale’s new policy will be unusual in that it will be “flexible,” as reported by USA TODAY. In addition to the SAT or ACT, applicants are also permitted to share their scores from Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate subject-based courses.

But these schools remain in the minority.

Most institutions of higher education have gone test-optional since the onset of COVID-19, which challenged in-person exams. The strategy stayed put as many schools reopened, and critics continued to question whether test scores are one of the best measurements of a student’s potential, or opportunity.

The University of Michigan announced Wednesday it would implement a test-optional stance indefinitely, citing research shows participation in rigorous high school courses is a strong indicator of college success. Other universities have followed. Debate will surely continue.

The University of Delaware remains optional on tests, for now.

More: Yale wants you to submit your test scores. University of Michigan takes opposite tack.

UD on SAT and ACT

Students walk through the University of Delaware's campus in Newark in 2017. Applications to UD are at an all time high this here.
Students walk through the University of Delaware's campus in Newark in 2017. Applications to UD are at an all time high this here.

The state’s largest university is test optional, and it has been formally since 2020. So, applicants can take the tests or skip the tests. Or, they can take the tests and not share scores, if “you think your high school transcript speaks for itself.” Or even still, they can choose to share their test scores.

Before that, a pilot for test-optional admissions actually launched in 2017 for Delaware resident applicants.

Last year the faculty senate voted to make the SAT and ACT remain optional for all applicants through 2025. It was not a permanent move but instead looked to allow "time for a committee to review student diversity, retention and graduation data," the university wrote last year. The move mirrors some 1,800 accredited four-year universities in the U.S. being either test-optional or test blind.

As Yale joined a small string of universities making the switch this week, UD confirmed it's sticking with a fully test-optional through the 2024-25 academic year.

"The UD enrollment management team employs a holistic assessment of the university’s application and enrollment processes and will continue to review and assess all relevant practices and policies on a regular basis," said Rodney Morrison, vice president of enrollment management, in a statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal.

Regardless of admissions criteria evolution, Morrison pointed toward interest in the University of Delaware remaining strong — with UD seeing record-breaking, year-over-year growth in first-year student applications over the last five years. "Importantly," he added, "we are seeing more highly qualified students applying to UD."

For Yale, the Ivy's formal announcement said “test scores are the single greatest predictor of a student’s future Yale grades.” And that correlation, officials said citing years of research, is apparent even when controlling for a student’s family income and other variables.

“Tests can highlight an applicant’s areas of academic strength, reinforce high school grades, fill in gaps in a transcript stemming from extenuating circumstances, and—most importantly—identify students whose performance stands out in their high school context,” Yale said in its announcement Thursday.

Critics say performing well on an admissions exam is often dependent on whether a student has the resources to access test prep services, USA TODAY reported Thursday, while access to AP and IB courses also remains uneven.

Per student tax: City of Newark moves forward on new UD student tax, looks to state for support

ICYMI: A digital SAT?

Ridgewood, NJ -- January 29, 2024 -- Meaghan Ozaydin and Sarah Burton are co-owners of Aspen Tutoring in Ridgewood.They prepare students for the new Digital SAT tests.
Ridgewood, NJ -- January 29, 2024 -- Meaghan Ozaydin and Sarah Burton are co-owners of Aspen Tutoring in Ridgewood.They prepare students for the new Digital SAT tests.

Oh also, the SAT is going digital.

Beginning in March, the once-paper-pencil format will no longer be available. Rare exceptions may remain for students with visual impairments, severe reading disabilities or other documented challenges.

The College Board, the organization that administers the test, believes the move is for the better, with societal changes and student preferences demanding the modern format. Educators, test-prep experts and youth advocates, however, told USA TODAY earlier this month they're worried the digital rollout could make the admissions process even more precarious.

Regardless, the digital SAT launched internationally last year, the digital PSAT debuted in the U.S. last fall, and this spring marks full launch. The College Board says test takers will experience something fundamentally different in several ways.

What's a digital SAT? Big changes are coming to the SAT, and not everyone is happy. What students should know.

Got a story? Contact Kelly Powers at or (231) 622-2191, and follow her on Twitter @kpowers01.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Some schools are bringing back SAT, ACT. Will UD stay test-optional?