UC system eliminates SAT, ACT for eligibility requirements until fall 2024

The University of California system has led the charge to eliminate standard test requirements for incoming students.

In a historic move to accommodate changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents on Thursday, May 21 eliminated SAT and ACT scores from its admissions requirements until fall 2024.

In its unanimous ruling, the board’s decision to eliminate the requirement for in-coming freshmen until 2024.

This decision was coupled with the announcement that the UC would be taking the next three years to design a new entrance test “that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

The board said that the new test will also serve as a more equitable alternative to the SATs and ACTs which are administered by not-for-profit organization The College Board. The SAT Reasoning Test (which includes a crucial essay portion) costs $64.50 to take while the SAT Subject Test costs between $22 to $26; these costs do not include the delivery fees to schools, which is $12 per school.

“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction toward aligning our admissions policy with the broad-based values of the university. I see our role as fiduciaries and stewards of the public good and this proposal before us is an incredible step in the right direction,” UC Board of Regends Chair John Perez said before Thursday’s vote.
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, the board voted in April to suspend the use of SAT scores and letter grade requirements for A-G courses for the fall of 2021, instead accepting the pass/fail grading system adopted by many high schools across the state.

For the fall of 2021 and 2022, campuses will, however, have the option to consider test scores if prospective students wish to include them in their applications. But by 2023 and 2023, campuses will not consider scores for students’ entrance into the university. (However, scores could be used as determinants for course placement, scholarships and the statewide admission guarantee.)

Though the board’s decision was catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the omnipresence of distance learning, advocates for equity in higher education admissions have long been encouraging university systems to omit standardized test scores as a major determinant for college admission.

“The University of California’s decision sends a clear message that biased, pay-to-play admissions tests will no longer be tolerated,” Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, said in a statement.

Sisqueiros referenced the 2019 college admissions scandal in which wealthy parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were found to have leveraged their affluence to cheat the admissions system for their children. One part of the extensive scandal involved Huffman paying thousands of dollars to inflate her daughter’s SAT scores to reflect higher academic acumen. (Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison last September following her guilty plea.)

The scandal placed focus on the systemic discrimination embedded within the college admissions process, a system that, unless students come from a wealthy family, comprises of abundant red tape based on income status, race/ethnicity and zip code.

“After years of research pointing to the racial and income biases of these tests that fuel a billion-dollar industry more concerned with profits than fairness, coupled with the recent college admissions scandal, it is time for colleges and universities across the country to do more than simply talk their ‘commitments to diversity,’” Sisqueiros added. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)

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