UC schools to eliminate SAT and ACT test scores for admissions

SAT and ACT scores will no longer be a determinant in admissions to University of California schools

College students prepare for SAT

Martha Phillips/Lariat.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are forced to cancel classes on campuses across the country, including all University of California schools. Many students have been unable to access the standardized tests needed to apply for college admissions and scholarship awards.

In May of this year, a superior court ruling from Judge Brad Seligman comes months after the UC Board of Regents waived the standardized testing requirements until 2024 with a unanimous vote. 

The ruling is monumental for the largest university system in the country. But, Judge Seligman’s order also prohibits considering scores from students who still choose to submit them.

“Judge Seligman’s historic decision puts an end to racist tests that deprived countless California students of color, students with disabilities and students from low-income families of a fair shot at admissions to the UC system,” said Mark Rosenbaum, director of Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law project.

According to a 2015 analysis by Inside Higher Ed, the SAT scores’  lowest average scores come from families with an income of less than $20,000. The highest scores come from families with an income greater than $200,000. Many advocates claim that these test scores do not reflect a student’s academic ability accurately. 

The 2019 bribery scandal of wealthy families paying for their children’s admissions to some of the nation’s top schools renewed attention to using SAT and ACT scores inflated by these students. The federal investigation was called Operation Varsity Blues which led to multiple indictments against some entertainers and college administrators.

“There’s never been such a thing as a level playing field to admissions for our most underrepresented students, but this ruling at least evened that field a significant bit,” Rosenbaum said.

UC will be test-optional for the graduating senior classes of 2021 and 2022 and test-blind for the graduating senior classes of 2023 and 2024. The differences in policies will be compared to determine a final decision in the SAT and ACT requirements for UC admissions. If UC cannot develop its own college readiness entrance exam by 2025, all UC will go test-blind in permanence.