Press releases from schools regarding their Early Decision (ED) and Restrictive Early Action (EA) rounds are starting to trickle in, which has given us a first look into how Covid, and the resulting decision to go test-optional, has affected application data this year. Below are notes on some of the most prominent schools that have put out press releases so far. We will continue to monitor this data for schools as it becomes available, though we do not expect schools to be as forthcoming as Penn with their test-optional data. We expect to see similar increases in application numbers across all elite institutions and for them to tout their record-low acceptance rates in their press releases.
*Updated as of Sunday, December 20th
MIT received 15,036 early admission applications, an outrageous 62% increase from last year’s early admission cycle. By admitting 719 applicants, MIT’s early admit rate was a minuscule 4.8% compared to last year’s 7.4%. MIT deferred 70.8% of applicants, a number that, while extremely high, fits in line with their deferral percentage from recent years.
The number of Brown’s ED applications increased by 22% from 2019 to an all-time high of 5,540. Brown’s ED admit rate was 16.0%, down from 17.5% in 2019.
Brown provided no data on, nor mentioned the impact of, test-optional policies on admissions statistics.
Harvard saw an astounding 57% increase in EA applications, from 6,424 in 2019 to 10,086 this year. Alternatively, the number of students admitted dropped by 16.5%, from 895 in 2019 to 747 this year, due in large part to the 349 students who deferred admission last year. The 2020 EA admit rate of 7.4% is by far the lowest in school history and is just over half the 2019 EA admit rate of 13.9%.
Harvard provided no data on, nor mentioned the impact of, test-optional policies on admissions statistics.
Dartmouth received a record number (2,664) of ED applicants, a 29% increase from last year’s number. They admitted 21.2% of applicants, down from 26% for the Class of 2024.
Dartmouth provided no data on, nor mentioned the impact of, test-optional policies on admissions statistics. They did rule out the possibility that deferrals from 2024 impacted early admissions decisions, as those 172 students have until March to decide whether or not to enroll, but they did mention that those decisions will have an impact on regular admissions decisions.
Penn saw a 23% increase in their ED applicants this year, and their admit rate dropped to a record-low 15% (compared to 19.7% last year). In addition to actually admitting that going test-optional was a factor in the increase, Penn gave us useful data in determining how test-optional policies affected ED admissions decisions. 38% of ED applicants didn’t submit scores, and 24% of admitted students didn’t submit scores. Based on those numbers, we are able to calculate admit rates for students who submitted scores and who did not.
Last year’s ED admit rate of 19.7% is very similar to this year's admit rate for students who submitted scores, so the difference in the lower admit rate (15%) this year is largely due to a much lower rate for applicants who didn’t submit scores.
Yale's EA applications rose by an astounding 38% from last year, and their admit rate dropped from 13.77% to 10.5%. Rejections rose from 29% last year to 38% this year, and deferrals dropped from 56% to 50%.
In the release, Yale did not address the effect of test-optional on its new statistics, instead attributing the rise in applications to "virtual outreach programming".
The number of ED applicants increased by 16% and Duke’s ED admit rate of 16.7% is considerably lower than the 21% early admit rate for the Class of 2024. Christoph Guttentag, Duke's Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, confirmed that 60% of ED applicants submitted scores and 40% did not.