MIT reinstates SAT/ACT requirement for 2027 admissions cycle and beyond

Admissions office concluded standardized testing to be least discriminatory and best predict academic success at MIT

MIT will reinstate the SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles, Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services Stu Schmill ’86 announced March 28. Schmill detailed the reasoning behind the decision in a post on the MIT Admissions blog and in a Q&A with MIT News.

Schmill wrote that “our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants, and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT.”

According to Schmill, throughout the pandemic, the research and analysis team within the admissions office attempted to understand how best to evaluate academic readiness for all students, especially those impacted by pandemic-related disruptions. 

The admissions office’s research reportedly found that standardized testing “significantly” improved the office’s ability to predict academic success at MIT, even when controlling for socioeconomic factors that correlate with testing. 

The office also found that other exams besides SAT/ACT — such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education, and mathematical olympiads — predict readiness, but access to such exams is even more socioeconomically restricted than the SAT/ACT.

The office concluded that not having SAT/ACT scores thus tends to “raise socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education” relative to having them, given these other inequalities.

While the admissions office research doesn’t explain why this is the case, Schmill wrote that “we believe it is likely related to the centrality of mathematics — and mathematics examinations — in our education.”

Schmill concluded by saying that while in future admissions cycles applicants will be expected to report an SAT or ACT score, if an applicant is unable to take the tests “because of a disaster or disruption,” they may explain their circumstances, with the admissions office granting them “a full and fair review.” In such cases, MIT Admissions “will not make any negative presumptions regarding [an applicant’s] academic readiness based solely on the absence of SAT/ACT scores, but will instead draw upon the lessons [the office] has learned during the pandemic to make the best, most informed decision [possible] by rigorously assessing other academic aspects of [the] application,” Schmill wrote.