UC Regents unanimously vote to suspend use of SAT and ACT in admissions

UC Regents unanimously vote to suspend use of SAT and ACT in admissions

Photo Credits: Jordan Knowles / Aggie File. President of the University of California Janet Napolitano speaking during the investiture of Gary May as Chancellor of UC Davis in 2017.

New test that more closely aligns with what students need to know to prepare for UC will be identified or created 

The UC Board of Regents unanimously voted to end the use of the SAT and ACT in admissions until 2024. It aims to replace the SAT and ACT with a test better aligned with the UC’s academic expectations for incoming students by 2025.

The entering class of 2021 and 2022 will be considered test-optional; students may submit SAT and ACT scores but are not required to. From 2023–2024, the UC will adopt a test-blind model where standardized test scores will not be a factor in admission decisions but may be used for class placement and scholarship purposes. By 2025, any use of the SAT and ACT will be eliminated for all California students. 

Beginning summer 2020, the UC will work to identify or create a new test that more closely aligns with UC values and expectations of content mastery for incoming California first-year students. If, by 2025, the UC finds that the creation of a new test is infeasible or the test is not yet ready, SAT and ACT scores will still be eliminated from the admissions process and no admissions test will be used for California applicants. 

Though non-resident students complete similar coursework to California students, out of state and international courses cannot be “pre approved” as is the case in California, and the UC will have to determine an equal and practical way to admit these students.

“Several possible options for nonresidents that may be considered include extending the new content-based test required of California students to out-of-state applicants as well, or requiring scores from the ACT, SAT or other approved standardized test(s),” a press release from the UC Office of the President read.

This decision comes a mere month after the UC’s Standardized Testing Task Force (STTF) recommended to UC President Janet Napolitano that the university system continue to use the SAT and ACT in admissions while identifying or creating the new UC approved test. President Napolitano went against this recommendation a week ago when she proposed that the UC Regents eliminate the SAT/ACT while identifying or creating a new test. 

“In a staff report released last week, President Janet Napolitano presented new recommendations for your consideration that we fear will inadvertently create more confusion, present varying scenarios without clarity of a final direction and ultimately drive more angst,” the CEO of the ACT Marten Roorda wrote in a letter to the Regents on May 18. 

Roorda voiced concerns about the cost of creating a new test, especially now with unexpected losses due to COVID-19 and raised doubt about the feasibility of the timeline. Roorda also cast doubt on the decision as Napolitano steps down as UC President at the end of the summer and questioned whether this action will address discrimination in testing. 

With six of the UCs topping the list of most applied to schools in the country, Roorda has more to worry about than just the success of these tests in predicting success in college; the UC phasing out the use of SAT and ACT will have major impacts on the larger academic sphere, especially in large public institutions.

“One thing I can predict pretty strongly is if UC gives up the SAT and the ACT, those tests are going to be dead,” said member of the STTF James Griesemer.

Though the most recent actions were taken in quick succession, it is in fact standard policy that the UC revisit the role of testing in the admissions process about every 10 years. 

“This is really the result of many years of work from a variety of different perspectives,” said Chair of the Board of Regents John Pérez after the Regents voted to move forward in phasing out the SAT and ACT in admission. “It [was] important that we came at this question from a variety of points of views and we come out of this question unified in this 23–0 vote.”

Written by: Jessica Baggott — campus@theaggie.org