Yale made a change to its access policy.  We have to go back to being a '10' student

Yale made a change to its access policy. We have to go back to being a '10' student

Being an outstanding student is once again important to enter one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. Yale has made a change in its access policy and from now on it will once again take into account the candidates' grades, to the point that will make it mandatory to include in applications the results of what are known as standardized teststhe North American version of what is known in Spain as Ebau or Evau (depending on each region), the old Selectivity.

The decision has just been announced and It will be applied immediately for all promotions that start the course from autumn 2025 – whose applications are already presented this year-. Until now, including or not including the results of these exams was completely voluntary, as happens in most American private universities, such as Harvard. Lifting this requirement became especially popular during the pandemic, although the trend had already been in the making for some time.

However, Yale's decision could mark a before and after for other educational institutions in the country, with their access policies under constant scrutiny, due to the suspicion that they benefit some students over others, whether due to race or social origin. Even the Supreme Court last year put an end to positive discrimination in admissions processes, forcing universities to look for other formulas to promote diversity in their classrooms. This is precisely where the decision taken by Yale fits in.

As explained by the institution, the fact of carrying out these exams voluntarily and deciding whether to attach the results or not to the access applications could be hurting students from low-income families. Because? After analyzing enrollments from previous years, Yale has detected that candidates with less purchasing power tend to hide their grades when they are not honors, even if they obtain A's. At the end, Even if sending the grades or not was voluntary, the truth is that it is difficult to demonstrate with other merits that one is a brilliant student if the grades are not presented.

Yale's case is not unique. In fact, it is the second university in the well-known Ivy League to make this decision. A few weeks ago, Dartmouth did, arguing exactly the same thing. Others, like Columbia or Harvard continue to leave candidates free to take these types of exams and not present their results if they do not believe they will benefit them.

Today, this is the most popular option, followed by around 80% of US universities. On the extreme side is the University of California, which has a blind policy regarding grades and entrance examswhich are not taken into account even when candidates freely present the results.


The decision of Yale or Dartmouth is also not without controversy, taking into account precisely that Educational institutions began to relax their entry requirements to promote equal opportunities. Although accessing these standardized tests is easy for any student in the United States, the reality is that many of those who aspire to study at an elite university hire personal trainers to help them achieve the best results on these tests. In fact, there is an entire industry that has blossomed around college admissions processes.

For example, A private teacher earns on average more than US$200 per hour. There are even professionals dedicated exclusively to writing the cover letter who charge US$45 per hour (the cheapest, US$11 per page, but in these cases it is a standardized writing, not personalized based on the candidate).

In that context, The number of detractors of standardized tests was increasing and universities began to choose not to require them, in order to help candidates with fewer resources. However, the experiment does not seem to be giving adequate results. What's more, new studies point precisely in the opposite direction. Not just those at Yale or Dartmouth.

For example, a group of Harvard economists published a report a week ago in which they said demonstrate that these test scores help identify the brightest students from lower incomes. According to his conclusions, an A on a standardized test by a less privileged student “may indicate high potential.”

And that is where Yale emphasizes, which misses that candidates include their grades in their applications.because at the same level of qualifications, I would be willing to accept sooner, due to their high potential, those who come from institutes with fewer academic resources or those who have not been able to count on personal trainers for the entrance exams.

Precisely, When there are no grades, when selecting, other criteria are taken into account, such as the advanced courses or seminars that the student has attended.extracurricular activities and other activities that, ultimately, benefit families with more resources, who are the ones who can pay for this parallel training.

What is a standardized test

To enter an elite university in the United States, it was common to present the scores of what is known as a standardized exam. At least, that's how it was until the pandemic. Now, in most cases it is a voluntary test and, if taken, the candidate decides whether or not to attach the results to the access request. In Spain, the closest thing to this type of exam is the Baccalaureate Evaluation for University Access, Ebau, although in some Ccaa it is called the Evaluation for University Access, Evau, the old Selectivity.

The big difference is that in the US there are several types of private standardized tests that are approved by educational centers. One of the most accepted is the Scholastic Aptitude Test, SAT, which already has almost a century of history behind it and is taken by around two million students each year. The test lasts three hours and evaluates both linguistic and mathematical skills. The test costs between US$60 and US$100 dollars ($55 and $92 euros). American College Testing, ACT, another of the most recognized, moves in the same range.

Entrance tests

Yale relaxed its admissions policy during the pandemic and lifted the requirement to submit admissions test results. Since then, andThe number of applications has practically doubled, reaching almost 60,000 a yearand its acceptance rate is 4%.

Now, following the steps of Dartmouth (a university that also belongs to the Ivy League), once again requires candidates to submit their cutoff scoreswhat is known as standardized exams (similar to the EVAU in Madrid).

Around 80% of US universities, such as Harvard or Columbia, maintain the voluntary nature of submitting grades in the admission processes. The number of candidates taking the tests has fallen by 22% since universities relaxed their entry requirements during the pandemic. When there are no grades, universities take other criteria into account, such as extracurricular activities or attendance at other courses and seminars, which favors higher classes.