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### Reinstating Standardized Testing at Brown University: A Case for Chang ’27

On February 5th, Dartmouth University made history by becoming the first Ivy League institution to reintroduce mandatory standardized testing for its 2025-26 admissions cycle. Following this significant move, Brown University’s Ad Hoc Committee on Admissions Policies is gearing up to release a report on the current test-optional policy. In light of Dartmouth’s decision, it is imperative for Brown to follow suit and reinstate mandatory standardized testing as part of the undergraduate admissions process.

The test-optional movement has a long history, with Bowdoin College eliminating its standardized testing requirement back in 1969. However, it wasn’t until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that colleges and universities en masse began adopting test-optional policies. By June 12, every Ivy League university had transitioned to test-optional admissions, including Brown University.

Initially driven by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the shift towards test-optional policies has now evolved into a broader discussion. Advocates argue that the racial disparities in test scores render them unsuitable for guiding admissions decisions, advocating for alternative metrics like high-school grade point averages. Nevertheless, a study on Ivy-Plus institutions challenges this notion, highlighting the predictive value of standardized test scores in the first year of college compared to high school GPAs.

A key argument in favor of test-optional policies is the alleged bias of standardized tests against racial minorities. Research indicates significant score gaps between Black and white students on standardized tests, reflecting broader inequalities in the college application process. Factors like access to test preparation services and extracurricular opportunities further compound these disparities, underscoring the systemic challenges faced by underprivileged applicants.

While acknowledging the inherent biases in various components of college applications, including essays and extracurricular activities, it is crucial to consider the context of an applicant’s background when interpreting standardized test scores. The decision to apply test-optional may inadvertently disadvantage economically disadvantaged applicants, as highlighted by Dartmouth’s move to reinstate mandatory testing to ensure fair consideration for all candidates.

In navigating the complexities of the admissions process, it is essential to recognize the limitations of existing metrics while leveraging them effectively to identify candidates who can thrive academically. Deemphasizing standardized tests through test-optional policies risks overlooking a valuable predictor of college success, emphasizing the need for a nuanced approach to admissions criteria.

For further discussion on this topic, Victor Chang ’27 welcomes correspondence at [email protected]. Responses to this opinion can be directed to [email protected], while other op-eds should be sent to [email protected].