H2H: University of California Drops SAT/ACT Requirements
September 18, 2020
UCs Dropping SAT/ACT Benefits Classes 2021 to 2024
While this time of the school year is normally crucial to juniors and seniors in terms of standardized testing for college applications, University of California president Janet Napolitano announced a recent decision including the adoption of a test-blind policy toward the SAT and ACT for UC schools, which provides numerous benefits for students applying to the UC schools.
Students graduating in classes from 2021 and 2024 will be “test blind,” meaning that SAT and ACT scores will not be reviewed as a part of the college application. This decision allows students to shift their focus to school, AP tests and extracurricular activities that are applicable during COVID-19.
“40% of the variation in students’ SAT/ACT scores is attributable to differences in socioeconomic circumstance,” according to a recent study by Dr. Saul Geiser at the University of California, Berkeley.
There also exists a correlation between poor, first-generation, Latinx and African American applicants and their test scores acting as a deterrent to the admissions offices.
“Those who grew up financially better off than their peers have access to prep classes with extra material to prepare them for the SAT/ACT,” junior Elizabeth Chung said. The SAT and ACT are there to test students on their capabilities to do math, read literature and analyze data (for ACT), but those who take/took prep classes not only get extra practice but tips and tricks that others may not be fortunate to obtain access to.”
While students may believe that standardized tests scores provide fairness in the admissions process, it only creates greater division.
A study done by professor and former dean of admissions at Bates College, William C. Hiss, discovered that high school grades are a better indicator of academic success and predictor for college readiness.
“Our society needs people in every discipline with a range of cultural, racial and economic backgrounds in order to maximize its creative potential,” Portola science teacher Ryan Johnson said. “Standardized tests deny opportunities for education to students of color, students with fewer financial resources, students with more home responsibilities and students with disabilities, so they are certainly unfair.”
With the UC school system going “test-blind,” students should spend more time on other parts of the application, now that there is no additional burden from standardized testing.
Abolishing Standardized Testing Has Negative Effects on Students
With the University of California school systems removing the requirement to submit SAT and ACT exam scores, students are trying to navigate their way to get into their dream colleges without the help of standardized testing, which has been beneficial and valuable to college admissions. To accommodate for the necessary changes to the college application process, testing requirements should be gradually relaxed over the course of several years rather than immediately for the next class.
The unanimous vote to withdraw from considering the SAT and ACT was decided on May 20, and will not be used until the freshman class of 2023 or 2024 arrives, according to the Los Angeles Times. This change in the school systems is made to benefit students who do not have access to take their test due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sudden removal may take a negative toll on some students rather than preparing students for the withdrawal.
“This changed some of the colleges on my list of colleges I’m applying to because rather than scores, the colleges will have to pick students based almost purely on GPA and essays,” senior Haley Don said. “When I first heard the news about UC schools not requiring submission, I wondered how colleges would be able to decide who to accept without scores.”
The UC suspension of standardized testing is leading to more research to find a better way to evaluate students’ readiness, which includes a new testing system, according to CNN.
“I took this news as unfortunate for not only my future, but also many students who believe the same,” junior Andrew Cherry said. “For a lot of students, the SAT or ACT was a way to prove their intelligence if their GPA isn’t exactly how they wanted it to be.”
These extensive protocols would have been more effective if the UC admissions system had slowly processed the removal of the SAT and ACT, and replaced it with their own admission exam, to smoothly integrate new testing requirements.