Travis Dove / The New York Times

Cornell's Graduate School applicants must keep their test prep books. Graduate admissions testing requirements remain, although they have become more flexible.

April 27, 2020

Cornell Graduate Admissions Offer ‘Flexibility’ For Testing Requirements Amid Online and Canceled Exams

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Cornell recently became the first Ivy League university to waive standardized testing for the 2020-2021 undergraduate admissions cycle — but few of its graduate programs have yet to follow suit.

Although widespread test date cancellations in the past few months have spurred some universities to temporarily waive standardized test requirements for graduate admissions, Cornell’s graduate institutions have mostly stayed mum on the subject.

Still, Cornell graduate programs are offering more flexible testing requirements, as the GRE, GMAT and LSAT move online or remain canceled.

Monica Ingram, associate dean for admissions and financial aid at Cornell Law, said individual law schools do not have the “latitude to waive its standardized test requirement,” due to admissions policies handed down from the American Bar Association.

“While a law school may be more restrictive in its admission policies than the ABA requires, it cannot be less restrictive,” Ingram told The Sun in an email.

The Law School Admission Council is offering an online version of the LSAT — the LSAT-Flex — during the week of May 18, though only for test takers who were already registered for the canceled April administration date.

Only one online testing date has been announced so far, but the LSAC is monitoring the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and is prepared to add more online test dates if needed, according to the LSAC website.

In recent years, certain law schools have added the GRE as an alternative option to the LSAT, including Harvard and Columbia. Others, such as Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, accept both GRE and GMAT scores.

Cornell’s MBA and veterinary programs also use the GRE and GMAT for admissions, as well as for numerous other degree graduate programs.

The Johnson Graduate School of Management states on its COVID-19 information page that applicants to its one-year and two-year MBA programs can now submit high school SAT or ACT scores in place of the GMAT or GRE, as long as they apply by April 24 and June 1 deadlines.

The standardized testing policies of the College of Veterinary Medicine, which accepts either GRE or MCAT scores, is still under discussion for the upcoming admissions cycle, wrote Melissa Osgood, assistant director of media relations and leadership communication, in an email to The Sun.

Barbara A. Knuth, dean of the Graduate School, wrote to The Sun that while GRE and GMAT scores are not required for applying to graduate programs, “some individual graduate programs require test scores, but are offering flexibility related to COVID-19 disruptions.”

The Graduate School website states that admissions committees will account for the “significant disruptions and challenges” caused by COVID-19 to perform “individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant.”

The Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE, has introduced a home testing option for the GRE for all locations where the tests are normally available, except Mainland China and Iran, where ETS is still working to roll out home testing. This version, which must be taken on a computer or laptop with Windows operating system, is available any time on Fridays through Mondays until June 30.

Additionally, the TOEFL exam, also administered by ETS, is required for many international students applying to U.S. institutions to demonstrate English proficiency. The ETS is offering a home version of the TOEFL iBT test, available online any time Tuesdays through Fridays until June 30.

The IELTS is another option for international students. There is an online test available in locations where in-person testing is not currently possible, administered once a week at scheduled times.

International applicants transferring to Cornell in fall 2020 may also submit the Duolingo English Test, an online English proficiency certification test, as a substitute for TOEFL or IELTS scores.

The Graduate Management Admission Council has also created an online home version of the GMAT, which will be available from April 20 to June 15.

Meanwhile, the Association of American Medical Colleges has introduced three new MCAT testing dates for the upcoming months, which will continue to be administered in person at test centers.

MCAT exams will temporarily be shortened to “increase capacity and follow social distancing practices” at test centers, according to the AAMC website.

While few medical schools have announced MCAT waivers for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, a joint statement from admissions deans of California medical schools announced that they will accept applications from students who do not have MCAT scores due to COVID-related test cancellations.

However, they added that all applicants for the Class of 2025 must have taken the MCAT before any admissions decisions are made, assuming future test administrations will proceed as planned.

The Weill Cornell Medical College admissions committee could not be reached for comment.