UC Regents Vote to Phase Out SAT/ACT College Admissions Requirement

NewsUC System

A picture of a pen on a paper
Courtesy of Antoine Dautry on Unsplash

Written by:

The University of California (UC) Regents voted unanimously to phase out the SAT and ACT test requirements for its college admissions process during their May 21 meeting.

UC President Janet Napolitanto initially proposed the change to phase out SAT and ACT standardized testing requirements over the next five years. Since the proposal was passed, the UC system will attempt to create their own admissions test to replace the SAT and ACT during this time period. If they fail to develop their own test, then UC admissions will instead focus on high school grades among other measures for admitting students.

According to the proposal, for the first two years the tests will be optional to submit. The UC Regents had already made the first year optional on April 1 when they suspended the standardized test requirement for Fall 2021 due to COVID-19. The plan essentially extends the COVID-19 suspension by an additional year. 

Following this, the requirement will be removed entirely from admissions consideration. However, students can still send their scores for prerequisite fulfillment and scholarship consideration during years three and four of the plan, says Napolitano. Finally in the fifth year, if the UC has successfully developed their own test,  they will implement it in 2025.

“We need to move in a careful and studied way to the new future,” explained UC President Janet Napolitano during the meeting, “Going in this fashion, two years, two years, to either a new test or no test gives us time to study the effect of each approach on the population of students that we serve and to better adjudicate how tests are done and how our admissions process as a whole is carried out.”

The SAT and ACT have been criticized for many years for allegedly discriminating against minority and low-income students, who often lack resources to adequately prepare for these tests compared to more privileged peers. Recently, a lawsuit filed in December 2019 alleged that the SAT and ACT are biased and do not predict a student’s success in college, making them unconstitutional. UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago conducted studies that support the lawsuit’s claims, demonstrating high school grades and GPAs were more accurate in predicting later college success than standardized tests. If the UC does develop its own test, it is unclear how the test will overcome the biases currently present in the SAT and ACT.

Outgoing Vice President of External Affairs Kamron Williams stated in an email to ASUCSD, “This [is] wonderful news to hear, this has been something that UCSA has been working hard to achieve and we are happy to see it come to pass. We have seen how the SAT/ACT can be a system that promotes educational barriers for so many marginalized students and this a step forward to a more equitable system that we can all live under.”

Aside from the timeline for phasing out the exams, it is unclear how the UC will develop its replacement test, or who will be creating it. As such, the Regents will be setting up a six month long feasibility study to investigate the development of an original UC test or amend alternative tests such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test to work with the UC’s educational standards.

Samir Nomani is the News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @samir_the_first.