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UC makes changes to standardized testing requirements--By Mackenzie Bivin

Before the coronavirus pandemic ensnared the nation, the University of California was considering whether to require certain standardized admissions tests for prospective students. In the fall of 2019, the chancellors of UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, together with the University of California's chief academic officer voiced their support for dropping the SAT and ACT as an admission requirement. In the LA Times article “Drop the SAT and ACT as a requirement for admission, top UC officials say,” Berkeley Chancellor, Carol Christ, explained her support for getting rid of these standardized tests.


"They really contribute to the inequities of our system," Christ said.


With the current environment in which SAT and ACT exams have been cancelled and there remains some doubt whether current high school juniors will be able to take either test before having to apply to colleges, the University of California announced on May 21, 2020 that the UC Board of Regent unanimously approved the suspension of the standardized test requirement for all California freshmen applicants until fall 2024. Thus, no current California high school student will be required to take the SAT or ACT in order to apply to a UC school.


However, the suspension of requiring an applying freshman to take either the SAT or ACT does not mean the UC will not require standardized testing in the future. However, in the UC Press Release dated May 21, 2020, UC President Janet Napolitano indicated that the UC system could create a new test for future prospective students.


"We are removing the ACT/SAT requirement for California students and developing a new test that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC," Napolitano said.


For now, the UC's testing requirements differ depending on when a high school student will be applying for admission. For students applying for admission in the fall of 2021 or 2022, each UC campus has the option to use SAT or ACT scores if a student submits them.


However, the University of California system assures students that they will not be penalized in the admissions review process if they do not submit a test. Also, the University of California no longer requires any student to submit the SAT essay or ACT writing test.


For all California public and independent high school students applying for admission in the fall of 2023 and 2024, the UC admission process will be test blind. So, a student may submit a test score, but the admissions department may not consider the score in making admission decisions. The test scores may only be used for scholarships, post-enrollment course placement, and statewide eligibility for admissions guarantee.


If the UC does not develop a new test to be used for admission for the fall of 2025, University of California plans to eliminate its testing requirement for California freshman admissions.


Although the University of California's decision to make the SAT and ACT optional for all students applying for admission in the fall of 2021 and 2022 (current high school juniors and sophomores), its test blind approach for current eighth and ninth graders only applies to California students. It remains to be seen what the UC system will require from out of state students.


Many California high school students may cheer the UC's decision not to require any standardized testing until 2025, but these students should be mindful about what additional information they are going to have to provide the admissions office to be a strong candidate.


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