Last month, you probably heard that Harvard announced that they will once again be requiring ACT/SAT scores for Fall 2024 applicants. That means they’ve joined the ranks of MIT, Purdue, Brown, Dartmouth, Yale, University of Texas – Austin, Cal Tech, and others who have returned to requiring test scores for freshman applicants.

Now, that’s interesting for at least two reasons:


  1. Harvard’s Brand Recognition is unrivaled.


    So by saying “we think standardized tests are good, ackshually,” Harvard is going to accelerate the cascade toward tests being required once again.

    Yes — I said “cascade” for a reason.

    It seems like the dominoes are falling hard, and by the Fall of 2025, I believe most top schools will require ACT/SAT scores. (Heck — look at the ones who very publicly announced already!)In my opinion, if you’re a sophomore, or the parent of a sophomore, you should absolutely be thinking about and planning your test prep now.

  2. Timing, as they say, is everything.

    What’s really interesting about Harvard’s timing? They announced—IN APRIL OF 2024—that tests are going to be required for applicants IN THE FALL OF 2024.Think about that for a second.Think about the hypothetical student who was banking on applying Test Optional.Harvard’s announcement came (1) literally too late for Test-Optional students to try to take an April ACT/SAT, (2) practically too late for test-optional students to prepare for a May/June ACT/SAT (not enough time to do much), and (3) with only 2-3 testing opportunities remaining before early-action applications are due.Reading between the lines, that means (1) Harvard isn’t concerned about losing Fall 2024 applicants who planned on being Test Optional, because (2) the types of students Harvard has been admitting without test scores haven’t been of the same caliber that Harvard expects.

    In other words: the top applicants — the ones that Harvard (or anyone else) really prizes — are the ones who had good test scores, all along. Even in the so-called “Test Optional” era.

    Yes — that was obviously the case all along, and we’ve continually advised parents and students accordingly. But Harvard’s announcement now makes it overwhelmingly clear.