The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Menlo Adopts “Test-Blind” Admissions Policy for Equity

Staff illustrations: Andrea Li

The 2023-24 admissions cycle marks the first year in which Menlo will not consider standardized tests such as the Independent School Entrance Exam and Secondary School Admission Test in the admissions process. However, they will continue to accept the Test of English as a Foreign Language for international students. Menlo is joined by other Bay Area independent schools including Sacred Heart Schools, Castilleja School and Crystal Springs Uplands School in this move to being test-blind. As for the future of standardized testing, Director of Admissions Brooke Wilson indicated that the school continues to evaluate the impact of this policy on the Menlo community.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Menlo became test-optional, along with many colleges and other independent schools. According to Wilson, the admissions team did not weigh submitted scores heavily in admissions decisions with this policy. 

According to Menlo, the decision to become fully test-blind is a step towards a more equitable application process. Wilson hopes that through the removal of test-prep tutors and other costs of the test, applying to Menlo will be an option for a wider range of families. “Removing standardized testing makes the process of applying to independent school or college more accessible,” Wilson said in an email to The Coat of Arms. However, Wilson did add that there are “pros and cons to every policy,” including a test-blind one.

Wilson also explained that the test-optional policy created confusion amongst applicant families as to whether or not they should submit scores. “[Test-optional created] more questions, concerns, and stress for applicant families unnecessarily, particularly in a competitive admissions landscape,” Wilson said. 

Wilson noticed a pattern of only students with the highest scores choosing to submit, a result of them having stronger academic backgrounds. In addition to attending higher-achieving elementary and middle schools, some applicants received one-on-one, private tutoring in preparation for these tests — tutoring which is out of reach for many other applicants.

However, it’s unclear how these new policies will impact admissions and the culture of independent schools. According to Wilson, not accepting standardized tests is a “relatively new trend” for elementary, middle and high school admissions, and schools are still collecting data on the impacts.

While the admissions office hopes the test-blind policy will create a more equitable admissions process and a diverse campus, Wilson is unsure how the removal will impact the school. “I really can’t say yet,” she said. “We will have to see.”

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About the Contributor
Sonia Dholakia
Sonia Dholakia, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with the entire staff to create a great product and becoming friends along the way.

Interests outside of school: Mock trial, traveling, and listening to Taylor Swift.

Class of 2025

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