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Colleges Embrace a Post-SAT Future, Driven by Pandemic Necessity

As semesters fly by, standardized testing dwindles further

Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.

Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.

Photographer: Philip Pacheco/Getty Images

High-school juniors applying to Stanford University can stop studying for standardized tests. The school isn't requiring them. Columbia University said last month it won’t require scores from students who are now sophomores or juniors, joining Cornell University and Amherst College. And the 280,000-student University of California system has declared no testing  for all freshmen who may apply to its 10 campuses.

The Covid-inspired movement that freed high-schoolers from the all-encompassing dominance of the SAT is rippling through higher education and likely to persist beyond the pandemic. “Left on our own, I think we'll go the way of the University of California system and either be completely test-optional or as far as score-free for a long time to come,” said Jonathan Burdick, who oversees enrollment at Cornell, where three of the seven undergraduate colleges won't accept scores.