University of California system votes to eliminate SAT and ACT requirements by 2025


Courtesy of

University of California Los Angeles.

Mehru Adnan, Hawk Talk Intern

The Board of Regents for the University of California (UC) system voted to phase out the SAT and ACT admissions requirements within the next five years on Thursday, May 21. The board made the decision after a teleconference call where they discussed the disadvantages standardized testing imposes on low income students and students of color. 

“We consider the use of the exam to be an antiquated approach to admissions, and one that undermines equity and ignores appropriate indicators of college aptitude,” UC San Diego professor and co-chair of the UC Chicano/Latino Advisory Council Frances Conteras said during public comment. 

Educators and activists have criticized the tests for years, citing them as disproportionately  more beneficial to wealthier white students, who can afford expensive prep classes and have access to better school resources. This prompted Janet Napolitano, the UC president, to propose the slow abandonment of standardized tests, in favor of promoting greater racial and financial equality amongst students. 

The new policy mandates that the UC’s admission process remain test-optional until 2023, when the system will become entirely test-blind for California residents (though test scores may still be submitted for scholarships). The UC system is expected to have established its own standardized test by 2025. This has led to mixed reactions from students and greater concern over the lack of standardization in the college admissions process. 

“Removing standardized tests will make admissions offices even more focused on GPA and course selection, as well as extracurricular and all other aspects of an application,” Sofia Catala-Velez (‘21) said. “Although I would love to live in a world where I don’t stress about studying for the SAT, I feel that comparing students academically only on GPA and course selection can be difficult since each state has a different educational curriculum and rigor in high schools vary wildly.” 

The decision also has received criticism from the UC faculty senate, whose standardized testing task force found the SAT and ACT to be an equitable factor in college admissions that could actually help disadvantaged students. 

“My father was on [Carnegie Mellon’s] student board,” Madeleine Steppel (‘20) said. “They did a study while he was there that showed pretty clearly that the best way for colleges to measure student achievement in college were the SAT and ACT.”

Despite these objections, the board stands by their decision to eliminate the SAT and ACT, even if the new standardized test is not ready by that time. 

“I think this is an incredible step in the right direction,” Regents chairman John Perez said after the conclusive teleconference.