UCOP Proposes Suspension of SAT/ACT for Freshman Applications

UC President Janet Napolitano recommended that the body suspend usage of the SAT and ACT exams as part of UC undergraduate admissions over a four year process beginning in 2021 in a May 12 proposal to the UC Board of Regents. This would allow the university time to create or modify a new exam “that better aligns with the content [the] UC expects applicants to have learned and with [the] UC’s values.” 

If approved, the plan would first make the ACT and SAT exams optional for prospective Fall 2021 and 2022 undergraduate applicants. UC campuses would then no longer consider these test scores for the admissions process for students from California public and independent high schools in the third and fourth year.

Fall 2025 freshman applicants and beyond would be expected to submit scores from a “modified content-based test” or a new independent exam prepared by the university. The recommendation calls for the complete elimination of the admissions testing requirement if the UC fails to meet this deadline.

The proposal further calls for the university to consult “K-12 educators, test experts, the California State University, and UC faculty” to facilitate the creation or modification of a new admissions exam and advises that UC create “a public online dashboard for tracking the progress of this process.”

Napolitano would request that the Academic Senate review UC’s current policies on admissions guarantees and analyze factors “contributing to disproportionate representation of California’s diverse high school student population.” The UC Office of the President would also work with the Academic Senate to determine their approach towards out-of-state and international applicants after 2025.

During the four-year suspension period, applicants will still be allowed to submit their ACT/SAT scores for use in determining eligibility for the UC statewide admissions guarantee. They can also still be used for scholarship consideration and course selection purposes.

Napolitano’s proposal was reportedly based on the findings of a January 2020 report which examined UC standardized testing admissions by UC Academic Senate’s Standardized Testing Task Force. The STTF report notably differs from Napolitano’s plan in that it did not call for the adoption of test-blind undergraduate admissions and it did not make a recommendation on test-blind admissions.

UCOP declined to comment on this story to the UCSD Guardian, but referred readers to the publicly released documents outlining the proposal.

In an interview with the UCSD Guardian, incoming Marshall College first-year Stephanie Rios thought that changes in admissions testing could allow prospective students to better demonstrate their “true potential” if implemented well.

“If there is a way to improve [the UC admissions exams], it could really benefit many students in the future,” Rios said. “…now is the perfect time to do so since the class of 2021 has had their SAT and ACT [exams] suspended already.” 

The Board of Regents voted to approve the proposal at its meeting on Thursday, May 21. As of this article’s update, the SAT/ACT exam requirement is now suspended as part of the freshman admissions process for all UC campuses beginning in Fall 2021.

This article was updated on May 21 to reflect the approval of UC President Napolitano’s proposal by the UC Board of Regents.

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