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Yale University is reinstating standardized tests after realizing that its removal harmed low-income students


Prestigious academic institutions such as Yale University and Harvard University are historically known to be institutions of excellence because of their high standards and the high test scores required to be admitted into their programs. Yet, over the years, they have crusaded for the removal of standardized tests as they argued that it was a hindrance to the admission of students of color and of low-income backgrounds into those academic milieux.

The removal of these standardized tests came as a result following race-based policies as the de facto metric to admit students into these institutions. In fact, the admission committee at Yale University thought that they were doing a favor to low-income students by removing standardized tests. However, evidence shows that since the removal of these standardized tests as part of the admission process, the academic results of low-income students were much below the standard required to sustain themselves in their program.

Despite their good intentions, reality could not be ignored. Making standardized tests optional was not going to make students of low-income backgrounds better prepared to face the academic challenges and the rigor of the programs.

According to Jeremiah Quinlan, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, said in a written statement released by the university that Yale had determined that test scores, while imperfect, were predictive of academic success in college. He said:


“Simply put, students with higher scores have been more likely to have higher Yale GPAs, and test scores are the single greatest predictor of a student’s performance in Yale courses in every model we have constructed.”


In reinstating standardized tests as a required part of the admission process, Yale argues that standardized tests help level the playing field for applicants from diverse backgrounds. They believe that without tests, students from more privileged high schools with better resources and preparation may have an unfair advantage. These schools often offer a wider range of advanced courses, have teachers experienced in writing strong recommendation letters, and provide more opportunities for extracurricular activities. Standardized tests, Yale claims, can help compensate for these discrepancies and identify talented students from less advantaged backgrounds who might otherwise be overlooked.

While the correlation between test scores and college success is complex and debated, Yale believes that standardized tests still provide valuable information in predicting how well students might perform in college. They argue that scores, when considered alongside other factors like GPA, essays, and extracurricular activities, can offer a more holistic picture of an applicant's potential. However, critics point out that test scores can be biased and don't necessarily reflect a student's ability to learn, adapt, and thrive in a college environment.

It must be said that requiring standardized tests helps Yale maintain its reputation as a highly selective and prestigious institution. Test scores are seen as a benchmark for academic ability, and requiring them may reassure potential donors, alumni, and the public that the university is admitting only the best and brightest students. However, opponents argue that relying solely on test scores perpetuates elitism and overlooks other valuable qualities in potential students.

It's important to note that the decision to reinstate standardized testing is not without controversy. Critics argue that it unfairly disadvantages underprivileged students who may not have access to the resources and preparation needed to do well on the tests. They also point out that research on the predictive power of standardized tests is mixed, and that other factors, such as socioeconomic background and access to quality education, play a more significant role in determining college success. However, this was the most realistic and effective decision made by the Yale undergraduate admission committee because, at the end of the day, standardized tests measure the analytical intelligence of the applicant. And removing such a crucial metric to assess the potential success of the student is setting them up for failure.

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