In an announcement on Thursday, May 21, the University of California Board of Regents has decided to suspend the SAT and ACT requirement in admissions. This decision extends beyond their previous announcement that in the face of COVID-19, the UC system will not require standardized tests for the following admissions season.
This suspension will last until 2024; the UC system hopes that these years will give them enough time to create a UC-specific test that can determine an applicant’s “UC-readiness”. However, if no new test is up to par by the Fall of 2025, the 10 schools in the University of California system will eliminate the standardized testing requirement.
The announcement comes in light of the claims that tests such as the SAT and ACT are unfair to marginalized groups that do not have the same access to education, tutors and prep courses that others may have — therefore invalidating the “standardized” aspect of these tests. California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kunalakis, a member of the UC Board of Regents, said “Enough is enough,” regarding the alleged discriminatory nature and inherent inequity of these tests.
The University of California is not the first — nor will it be the last — school to make such a decision. Other high-ranking schools such as Brandeis, Wake Forest and the University of Chicago have all made their admissions “test-score optional”. For students whose test scores do not necessarily reflect their high-school GPA and other forms of academic success, these test-optional schools are an excellent option. The University of California system has so many students under its umbrella that this announcement is sure to cause ripples in nation-wide academia.
Feeling the effects of the ripple will surely be College Board (the non-profit who administers the SAT) and ACT. The University of California produces the companies’ largest amount of customers, also known as student test-takers. Considering that these standardized testing companies are already financially hurting from the missed/delayed testing dates (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), the UC Board of Regent’s decision will presumably affect their pricing and organization in upcoming years. College Board and ACT have already commented on this decision, claiming that their tests only reflect the education and opportunity disparity across the nation — something that is not a “fault of the tests themselves.” College Board also stated that if the University of California creates a new, system-specific test, it will only instill a heavier burden on high-school students.
After last year’s “College Blues” scandal, there has been an increasing amount of distrust of the testing and admissions system in general. College Board even tried to administer an “adversity score” to account for the privilege disparity between test-takers, but later withdrew the proposal after criticism that adversity cannot be quantified.
The University of California’s announcement is sure to spark new conversations concerning the necessity of standardized tests, especially in the wake of the unprecedented admissions-related drama.