Reversing more than fifty years of reliance on standardized tests, this week the University of California decided to make the SAT and ACT optional until 2022.
This is a radical move in the sense that these standardized tests have been the bedrock of college admissions for a long, long time.
But the fairness of the tests has always been in question.
“The main reason we are looking at SATs is because they are racist,” said Kum-Kum Bhavnani, chair of the Academic Senate. “No one disputes that.”
And it has long been known that they are not necessarily predictors of success, in college and beyond.
What this means for college admissions is profound.
Last year I was invited to speak on a panel at the Oak Grove School in Ojai, California about The Test and the Art of Thinking, a film debunking the validity of the SAT’s after it was reviewed in The New York Times.
It was clear even then that the UC’s were considering tossing them out or at least going test optional.
Now, in the wake of COVID-19, they have done just that.
Many believe the University of California will be the first of many schools to make this move.
Having been in admissions myself, I can tell you that this will definitely change the face of college admissions.
The focus will (hopefully) now be more wholistic. The college essays will carry more weight than ever before.
As described in CalMatters.org, here are the new rules:
The revised admissions rules, spearheaded by Napolitano in a plan she unveiled last week, spell out different realities depending on whether a student is a California resident or not between now and 2024:
For all students, the SAT and ACT will be “test-optional” in the admissions process until 2022. Students who don’t submit a test score won’t be penalized.
For the 2023 and 2024 school years, the UC will not consider test scores from California students for admissions purposes.
California students can still submit test scores to become eligible through the “statewide guarantee admissions,” which combines high school grades and test scores to give students a spot in any campus that has space if the student is in the top nine percent of applicants.
Students can submit their test scores for certain scholarships and placement in courses.
Out-of-state students will be governed by the “test-optional” rules until 2024.
The essay and writing portions of the SAT and ACT requirements are dropped beginning next year.
Non-resident students may still have to take the SAT or ACT in 2025 and beyond. They may also be able to take UC-designed test if it’s ready in time. The rules for non-resident students, who make up nearly 20 percent of undergraduates, are an open question.
Let us hope this very trying moment in history will have some silver linings. In my opinion, letting the SAT’s go, is one of them!