Brown Is Fourth Ivy League School to Drop SAT/ACT Essay Requirement

Sayles Hall on Brown University’s Campus in Providence, RI.
Photo Credit: Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Brown University announced that it will join Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth Universities as the fourth Ivy League school that will no longer require the ACT writing or SAT essay test.

8000 schools nationwide offer free school-day SATs, but those do not include the essay portion of the SAT Logan Powell, Brown’s Dean of Admissions, explained. He said this could discourage talented students from applying to schools that require it.

Powell participated in a committee in 2013 convened by The College Board, who administers the SAT, that recommended the institution of free school-day testing.

He noted many students from low-income families take advantage of free SAT testing offered during the school day. This enables those who might encounter difficulties taking standardized tests on a Saturday — when the SAT and ACT are traditionally offered — to avoid challenges such as finding transportation, taking time off from work or applying for a fee waiver.

“Given the significant growth in free school-day testing, it’s important to enable students from low-income families to take advantage of the tests already offered by their school districts and not place an undue burden on them to go in separately outside of normal school hours,” Powell said. “Our goal is that for any talented student interested in Brown, the application process is not a deterrent — and we don’t want this test to be a barrier to their application.”

Undergraduate applicants can still submit their SAT essay or ACT writing scores should they choose, Powell added. And the University also recommends that applicants submit a graded paper from a humanities or social sciences course as part of their application.

The shift in testing requirements is one of a wide range of efforts at Brown to ensure that financial considerations do not prevent talented students from applying to or enrolling at the University.

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