Please see the statement from Harvard College Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, William Fitzsimmons, regarding updated Harvard admissions requirements. Please read through the entire email carefully.
——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Harvard College Admissions & Financial Aid <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, May 14, 2014 at 10:20 AM
Subject: A Modest Change in Standardized Testing Requirements and Advice for Applicants
TO: Alumni/ae Interviewers
FROM: Dean Fitzsimmons
DATE: May 14, 2015
RE: A Modest Change in Standardized Testing Requirements and Advice for Applicants
We have made a modest change regarding standardized testing. SAT Subject Tests will be “normally required” rather than “required” as they are now. We will also expand our advice to applicants about standardized testing in order to help them understand its role in our admissions process.
As access to guidance counseling has deteriorated in the U.S. over the past decade, more outstanding candidates including many top minority students receive little or no advice from counselors and apply to Harvard without Subject Tests. Even more worrisome, they may not apply at all. (California, the state that sends the most students to Harvard, now has a counselee/counselor ratio of 1,000 to 1.) Such students often struggle with poor or no advice from counselors, the expense of taking yet more standardized tests, and even the time required to take the tests, which may interfere with home responsibilities and employment.
In addition, some of the most promising high school students both here and abroad may view the current two Subject Tests requirement as a rigid, not particularly challenging and redundant impediment. Students who are truly unusual academically already have a wide range of academic accomplishments such as impressive results in national and international competitions well beyond the scope of Subject Tests.
Recent public discourse about upcoming changes in the SAT has focused attention on the role of standardized tests in predicting academic success in college. This is a good moment to refine the advice we give to applicants. We should tell students even more clearly than we do now that we welcome evidence from a wide variety of sources, well beyond the two Subject Tests. For many years we have conducted research at Harvard demonstrating factors that lead to academic success here. This research has been discussed widely, and it has helped shape public policy and “best practices” in standardized testing through the 2008 NACAC Testing Commission Report and other publications.
The following is how the new information will soon be presented on our website and in discussions with the public.
New Advice and Requirements to Applicants about Standardized Testing
SAT or ACT Scores
We require all applicants to complete the SAT Reasoning Test OR the ACT Test with Writing.
We normally require, in addition:
Two SAT Subject Tests. If you choose to submit Subject Tests, it is more useful to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful.
While we normally require two SAT Subject Tests, you may apply without them if the cost of taking the tests represents a financial hardship or if you prefer to have your application considered without them. Standardized testing is only one component of our holistic admissions process and your application will be evaluated on the basis of all of the other information you submit.
Subject Tests can be helpful both for admissions and course placement purposes. Students whose first language is not English and those less familiar with standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT can often demonstrate their academic progress more effectively by submitting Subject Tests. International students generally benefit from submitting Subject Tests and should take them if possible as they are unlikely to be admitted with the SAT or ACT alone.
The decision whether to take Subject Tests is entirely up to you. You should ask yourself whether other academic credentials including, but not limited to, AP results, IB marks, A Levels grades, etc., adequately represent your suitability for studying at Harvard. If there is any doubt, you should take two Subject Tests. Official scores of such tests as APs should be sent if possible but can be forwarded after matriculation if expense is a consideration.
You may use the College Board Score Choice option or the similar option offer by the ACT. Our official codes are 3434 for the College Board SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests and 1840 for the ACT.
· Click here to send your SAT and SAT Subject Test scores
When registering for tests, use your name as it will appear on your Harvard application. Using a nickname may prevent your scores from matching the rest of your application in our database.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT TESTING
Subject Test results can be used to help assess which course levels are appropriate to take at Harvard and can enable a student to pass our language requirement (700 or better on a language Subject Test) and take advanced courses from among our 80+ foreign languages. Other standardized tests can also be used to meet our language requirement, for example, with a 7 in a Higher Level IB language exam or a 5 in an AP language exam or by successfully passing a placement test upon arriving at Harvard.
Standardized tests can also be used to apply for Advanced Standing, which offers the possibility of graduating in three years and/or receiving a Masters degree in the fourth year. Students scoring 5 on four or more on certain Advancement Placement Tests or 7 on three International Baccalaureate Higher Level Tests may be eligible for Advanced Standing if they meet certain other criteria during their first year of study at Harvard. Students should know, however, that very few students choose to graduate in three years, instead using the full four years to take advantage of Harvard’s many academic, extracurricular and other opportunities. Click here for more information about Advanced Standing at Harvard.
Additional information can add to students’ academic profiles, but it is neither expected nor required. Evidence of unusual academic achievement such as contest results, writing or poetry, science and mathematics research, or academic portfolios of any kind are welcome but entirely optional.
Standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT are best viewed as rough yardsticks of academic progress which are greatly affected by academic opportunity. For more information about standardized tests, test preparation and topics related to the changing SAT, please click here http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/03/a-change-for-the-better/
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Office of Admissions & Financial Aid
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