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Columbia University announced it will make permanent a pandemic-induced pause in standardized testing requirements for applicants, confirming Friday that the process would continue to be test-optional.

The New York City school becomes the first Ivy League school to drop testing requirements altogether. 

Other schools have extended their testing pauses, but not permanently: The University of Pennsylvania has extended its pause to the 2023-2024 application process, Cornell University has extended to the 2024-2025 cycle and Harvard and Princeton applications will be test-optional through 2026.

Colombia officials said the revised applications review process will be “holistic and contextual.”

“Our review is purposeful and nuanced — respecting varied backgrounds, voices and experiences — in order to best determine an applicant’s suitability for admission and ability to thrive in our curriculum and our community, and to advance access to our educational opportunities,” Columbia wrote in its announcement.

Those who submit standardized test results will not be disadvantaged, and academic rigor and success will still be taken into consideration, the university said.

For students that do undergo testing, Columbia will accept either the SAT or ACT, but will not consider the optional writing section of the tests during its review.

Columbia joins hundreds of other universities across America dropping the testing mandates. FairTest, a testing reform advocacy group, said that there were at least 1,835 U.S. colleges that did not require testing as of November 2022.

“An overwhelming majority of undergraduate admissions offices now make selection decisions without relying on ACT/SAT results. These schools recognize that standardized test scores do not measure academic ‘merit.’ What they do assess quite accurately is family wealth, but that should not be the criteria for getting into college,” said FairTest Executive Director Harry Feder.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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