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UCs Dropping the SAT/ACT Requirement

MAY 28, 2020

On Thursday, May 21, 2020, the University of California Board of Regents unanimously agreed to eliminate the SAT and ACT requirement on the UC application. The decision came after UC President Janet Napolitano proposed the UC system move away from the decades-long requirement. Not only does this affect rising seniors but high school seniors to come and in very different ways.

**For seniors graduating in 2021 and 2022, the UC application will be test-optional.
**This means that for seniors applying in the upcoming two application cycles, they will not be required to submit standardized test scores - this includes the SAT, ACT, and AP exams. However, this does not mean that students shouldn’t refrain from taking these exams. If you are a strong test-taker, it is recommended to still take these exams. If you perform well, the submitted scores will enhance your application. If you choose not to take the exam or submit not-so-great scores, it will not be counted against you.

**For seniors graduating in 2023 and 2024, the UC application will be test-blind.
**What does this mean? Pretty simple. Any score that is submitted on a UC application will not be considered. Once the UC system goes test-blind, applicant essays, grades, and extracurriculars will weigh more in the decision process!

Why the change?

The UC system is hoping to attract students from different backgrounds and abilities. For starters, many students struggle with standardized tests and their scores do not accurately reflect their academic capabilities as many students with learning disabilities struggle with time constraints. And second, these exams are not always easily accessible. For many students, their families cannot afford to pay for these exam fees. And in some cases, students live quite far from the testing locations and are unable to travel to the official testing location.

UC President Napolitano was “unpersuaded that the value-add of the SAT and ACT was sufficient to outweigh” the efforts the UC system makes to address the correlations between test scores and family incomes.

President Napolitano urged the Academic board to “drill down into factors that contribute to the disproportionate representation, or un-representation, of students from underserved communities within our student population. . . We are a public university, after all,” she added.

Should I still take these exams?

If you have the option, we’d still recommend taking these exams. First, you never know how you’ll do! If you score well, it is an enhancement to your application if you will be applying in the next two years. Second, impressive SAT and ACT scores can actually help you land a scholarship from the UC system! That is right, the scholarship process with the UCs will still consider these exams. Last, stellar SAT and ACT scores can help you fulfill prerequisite courses like English composition before even arriving on campus.

As of May 27th, many schools still have the requirements for the SAT/ACT, such as Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown among many others. Submitting scores helps portray yourself as being college-ready.

Consider this situation: Two students who are considered equally competitive applicants apply to a university. If one student has submitted a strong SAT/ACT score, and one student hasn’t submitted one, it’s likely that the student who submitted a score will be considered a safer choice for the university.

While the UC system will begin to phase out the SAT and ACT, the group of universities will still consider SAT Subject Test scores, even after they go test-blind for 2023 and 2024. We recommend for students interested in STEM especially to still take these exams as it benefits the quality of applications greatly to prove you are able to handle the rigor of higher-level quantitative courses. For students pursuing a STEM path, we recommend taking the SAT Math Level 2 and at least one SAT science subject test (Biology, Chemistry, or Physics).

What is the new UC standardized test?

The SAT/ACT requirement will be replaced by a new standardized admissions test, but likely not until 2025. While the UCs have suspended the requirement for standardized tests, President Napolitano is aiming for a test that “better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC values.”

By 2025, “any use of the ACT/SAT would be eliminated for California students and a new, UC-based test would be required.” If a new test were not ready, the memo said, “consideration of the ACT/SAT would still be eliminated for California students,” said UC President Napolitano.

UC President Napolitano’s full proposal can be found and reviewed here.

Shannon F.

Written by

Shannon F.

Shannon completed her Bachelors at Franklin University Switzerland where she majored in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies & minored in Social Justice and Sustainability. Shannon has a passion for environmental and social justice and immersing herself in new cultures. Shannon has worked in higher education and now works as the Community Outreach & Engagement Lead with Crimson. Shannon currently lives in California and enjoys reading, water polo, hiking, yoga, and traveling.