Test-Flexible Message to Counselors

February 2024

Dear Colleagues,

I write to share the news that Yale has announced a new standardized testing policy that will go into effect for the 2024-25 admissions cycle. Yale will return to requiring scores of all applicants but will expand the list of tests that fulfill the requirement to include AP and IB exams in addition to ACT and SAT. Current applicants will not be affected.

This change is the product of four years of experience with test-optional policies, a robust set of analyses from Yale’s institutional research office, and illuminating conversations with many of you. 

What Test-Flexible Means for Yale

Knowing that that most prospective applicants will be unfamiliar with a test-flexible policy, we have created a new suite of resources. I encourage you to review,

Yale will not prefer one test type over another, and students with more scores will not be advantaged.  We are communicating proactively that Yale’s policy should not drive students to take more tests, and that focusing too narrowly on testing is not a wise college preparation strategy.

I also want to say clearly that Yale does not view AP or IB courses as superior to other rigorous college preparatory programs. Our decision to accept these scores stems from new internal research on the predictive validity of the exams, and not a preference for those courses.

I sincerely appreciate you sharing and reinforcing these messages within your community; I know they are often not intuitive to students or parents.

How Students Will Meet Yale’s Requirement

Although our new policy may initially seem more complicated than test-optional or test-required, I expect it will prove simple and straightforward in practice.

Starting this fall, applicants will be asked to indicate which scores they would like considered when completing their Yale-specific questions. Applicants will select one or more type of test from the list of four options. Those who select AP or IB will be required to include results from all subject exams they have completed prior to applying.

The Yale-specific questions will include space for students to self-report scores that do not appear elsewhere in their application materials. This will allow students to withhold scores from colleges with different testing policies while using the same application.

Applicants may report “super-scored” results from the SAT or ACT, provided they include scores from all subsections. Predicted IB scores will not fulfill Yale’s requirement but may still be included with the application. Consistent with our current policy, applicants will fulfil Yale’s requirement with self-reported scores, and only admitted students will be required to submit official results prior to enrolling.

Finally, a new optional question will invite students to provide brief additional information detailing any extenuating circumstances associated with preparing for or completing any tests. I hope this question reinforces our message that scores are considered holistically and contextually, by a real person.  

Why Test-Flexible?

My team’s positive experience with a test-optional policy persuaded us that requiring only the SAT or ACT can discourage promising students from considering colleges like Yale. The experience also demonstrated, however, that inviting students to apply without any test scores can, inadvertently, disadvantage students from low-income, first-generation, and rural backgrounds.

Our new policy is designed to help applicants put their best foot forward, and to help admission officers respond to well-prepared students from all contexts. I expect that, for some, strong performance on AP or IB exams will be more meaningful than an ACT or SAT score. For others — including those attending schools that lack access to AP or IB courses — an ACT or SAT score may provide a valuable datapoint that gives the committee confidence in a student’s preparation.

This confidence is founded on evidence: consistent with research from other highly selective colleges, our analyses have found that standardized test scores predict future Yale grades better than any other available datapoint — including high school grades — even after controlling for family income and other demographic variables.

I believe every standardized test is imperfect and incomplete. No single exam can demonstrate every student’s college readiness or perfectly predict future performance. A test can, however, 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 school context.

Finally, I know many of you have struggled to provide consistent answers to students who have asked, “Should I submit my scores or not?” This natural question typically presupposes that scores above a certain threshold help an application while those below hurt. The reality in our whole-person review process is not that simple. My hope is that by requiring scores of everyone but providing greater flexibility, we communicate that scores are an important but not determinative component of the application and that students have agency in how they showcase their strengths to colleges.

The Road Ahead

On both sides of the desk, we admissions professionals reply on consistent data to help inform our work with complex, accomplished, and fascinating young people whose strengths cannot be reduced to numbers.

My work of assembling a class composed of dynamic young people with an amazingly diverse range of experiences requires an open mind and a healthy dose of humility about my ability to predict the future. With our standardized testing, we are striving to take the same approach.

I believe this policy is the right approach for Yale, right now. But among the many lessons of the past four years, I have especially learned the value of remaining nimble. I am relieved to finally announce a testing policy not in the form of a one-year extension, but I do not expect our conversations about standardized testing will end.

Thank you as always for your partnership in our shared goal of connecting promising young with the world’s college opportunities. I wish you and your communities the very best.

Jeremiah Quinlan

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid