Columbia will become the first college in the Ivy League to go permanently test-optional for undergraduate admissions, according to an announcement made Wednesday.

In an announcement posted to the Undergraduate Admissions website Wednesday afternoon, Columbia announced that applications to Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering are now fully test-optional. This means Admissions will no longer require high school students to report their standardized testing scores when applying to either undergraduate college.

According to the announcement, students who wish to submit test scores will still have the opportunity to do so, and Columbia’s policies surrounding these score submissions (including its acceptance of scores from either the SAT and ACT from any time up to November or January of the student’s senior year) will remain the same. However, applicants who do not submit test scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process.

Admissions says it made the decision to go test-optional because the undergraduate application already allows “the greatest possible opportunity and flexibility for students to represent themselves fully.” Additionally, Wednesday’s announcement says CC and SEAS employ a “holistic and contextual application review process,” one “rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multi-faceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor.” 

Columbia’s announcement of the new official test-optional policy follows three years of fluctuations in standardized testing requirements at higher education institutions across the country, as the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult or impossible for many high school students to take exams including the SAT and ACT. Columbia in particular chose to go test-optional for students applying during the 2020–2021, 2021–2022, 2022–2023, and 2023–2024 admissions cycles. Before the pandemic, CC and SEAS required applicants to submit either their SAT or ACT scores. According to the University’s 2021-22 Common Data Set, under the provisional test-optional policy only 44% of enrolled students in the Class of 2025 submitted SAT scores, and only 29% submitted ACT scores. While some universities return to their pre-pandemic requirements, Columbia is the first Ivy to announce an official permanent move away from standardized testing.

Campus via Bwog Archives