University of California Eliminates Admissions Test Requirements

The University of California voted unanimously in May to phase out the SAT and ACT standardized testing requirements for all new freshman applicants through 2024.

“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the University,” said John A. Pérez, who chairs the UC’s governing board.

The decision has wide-reaching implications: The 10-campus university system receives more than 200,000 applications per year, many of them from California high schools. Dozens of schools nationwide have waived SAT/ACT requirements temporarily due to coronavirus, but only a few have eliminated the requirement altogether.

The UC’s five-year plan begins with two years of “test-optional” admissions, which will allow — but not require — applicants to submit test scores. After that, campuses will no longer consider SAT/ACT scores for admission. In 2025, the UC will either launch a new UC-specific standardized test or scrap the standardized testing requirement entirely.

The new policy affects thousands of college hopefuls in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

“SAT/ACT testing, historically, is a barrier for our low-income, first-generation students,” said Susie Stone, co-head counselor at Dos Pueblos High School. “Their families just tend to not be as looped into that. Test prep can be hundreds to thousands of dollars.”

But adding a new standardized test could pose problems because most students “don’t just apply to UCs,” Stone said. “If they’re applying to a UC school and then another college that’s still using the SAT, ACT — traditional standardized testing — I think, ‘Wow, that’s just one more test for a student to have to take,’” Stone said.

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