High school students who hope to get into the University of California system no longer have to worry about taking standardized exams. The university system announced on Thursday that for the next four years, incoming freshmen do not have to take the ACT or SAT to be considered for admission.
According to a statement on its website, the University of California's board of regents unanimously voted to suspend the SAT/ACT admissions requirement for incoming freshmen until fall 2024.
In its place, UC will "create a new test that better aligns with the content the University expects students to have mastered for college readiness," the announcement said. If a new test doesn't meet that standard in time for fall 2025 admission, the school said it will eliminate the standardized testing requirement for California students.
"Today's decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University's undergraduate admissions," UC president Janet Napolitano said in the announcement. "We are removing the ACT/SAT requirement for California students and developing a new test that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC."
For fall 2021 and fall 2022, UC campuses will be allowed to decide if they want to require ACT/SAT test scores for applicant consideration. The following two years, campuses will adhere to "test-blind" admissions, during which campuses will not be allowed to consider test scores for California public and independent high school applicants.
Starting in fall 2021, UC will completely eliminate the requirement for the writing portions of the exams.
If a replacement test isn't ready in time for fall 2025, California high school students will still be allowed to forego standardized testing.
Standardized exams have long been criticized for an alleged bias toward those who come from low-income communities or those who identify as a person of color. Many people cited the issue on Twitter after UC announced its decision.
California Representative Ted Lieu also criticized the tests on Twitter, writing "The tests unfairly benefitted students who could afford test taking courses. They also didn't test for traits that really make a difference, such as leadership, creativity, compassion & honesty."
According to College Board's website, the SAT costs $49.50, or $64.50 if students want to take the writing portion. There are also fees to take tests for specific subjects, and for various services associated with the test. The ACT has similar pricing. UC has traditionally required students to submit results for either the ACT or the SAT, including the writing portions, with their application.
In 2019, a disproportionate number of test-takers were white, and the majority of students who took the Practice SAT their sophomore and junior years were also white.
According to the ACT, more than two-fifths of test-takers are "underserved," and "tend to achieve lower college and career readiness levels."