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Penn Admissions recently announced that it will be extending its test-optional policy for the 2024-25 admissions cycle. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Penn extended its test-optional application policy for the 2024-25 admissions cycle, despite several peer institutions recently reinstating their standardized testing requirements. 

In a March 5 announcement, Penn Admissions wrote that the University will continue its policy of being test-optional for Class of 2029 applicants — making Penn the latest school to officially announce its policy amid a divided Ivy League. Students may still elect to submit standardized test scores, and students who do not submit scores “will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process,” according to the announcement.

The Penn Admissions announcement did not include any rationale for the extension.

Penn’s test-optional policy was first implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-21 admissions cycle. The test-optional policy has since been extended for every application cycle.

Other universities are split on whether to extend pandemic-era policies that made standardized test score submissions optional. 

Earlier on March 5, Brown University announced that it will reinstate its standardized test requirement for the Class of 2029. Brown's decision followed those of several other universities.

In early February, Dartmouth College removed its test-optional policy and returned to requiring standardized test scores for the incoming Class of 2029 and beyond — citing a research group which found that “standardized test scores are an important predictor of a student’s success in Dartmouth’s curriculum” regardless of a “student’s background or family income.”

On Feb. 22, Yale University announced that it will implement a “test-flexible” policy for applicants starting in fall 2025. Yale will require standardized test scores, but will give students the option to submit subject-based Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests instead of SAT or ACT scores. 

The remainder of the Ivy League universities will continue their test-optional policies through the 2024-25 application cycle.

In 2021, Harvard University announced applicants through the Class of 2030 would be able to choose whether to submit standardized test scores, although Harvard has not announced whether this will change for applicants after then. Cornell University extended its test-optional policy in February through fall 2025, and Princeton University's policy remains active through the 2025-26 cycle. 

In March of last year, Columbia University implemented a permanent test-optional policy for applicants to the College and the School of Engineering and Applied Science — the first Ivy to do so. 

Interim President Larry Jameson’s prepared remarks for a March 1 Board of Trustees meeting — which was interrupted by protestors and adjourned — state that Penn received an all-time high in applications of 65,230 for the Class of 2028. This count represents a nearly 10% increase from applications for the Class of 2027.

Last admissions cycle, Penn received a record of more than 59,000 applications to the Class of 2027 — around a 7% increase from the previous year.