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The University of California Has Done Away with Standardized Tests....Or Has It?

This past week, the University of California system announced a litany of changes to the admissions process in relation to standardized tests. I am not sure whether to jump for joy or let out a frustrated yelp.

On one hand, the new policy changes address the longstanding concern that the SAT and ACT discriminate against low-income and underrepresented minorities. On the other hand, the UC system is creating different rules for resident and non-resident applicants with its approach, and it hopes to implement a brand new standardized test in the future.

This essentially means students will have to take another type of standardized test just to apply to the UCs. I don't know about you, but I thought COVID-19 has forced all of us to reset our priorities and reduce the number of inhumane expectations placed on our kids.

So, here is what you need to know if you are interested in applying to the UCs.

First, if you are a member of the Class of 2021 or 2022, you have the choice of whether or not you want to submit your SAT or ACT scores with your application.

This translates into a traditional test-optional policy, but it's temporary for the UCs. (More on that temporary piece in a moment.) You won't be disadvantaged by applying without test scores. But if you want, you can submit them and they will be considered in the admissions process.

READ MORE: Ten Secrets for Reporting Test Scores to Colleges

Second, the UCs have finally decided to drop the unnecessary requirement forcing students to take the SAT with Essay or the ACT with Writing.

Hallelujah! For an institution discussing such extreme policy changes related to standardized tests, what took it so long to drop the Essay/Writing section requirement? It costs extra money to take the SAT with Essay and the ACT with Writing, takes more time to take the test, and was never respected by the industry. It was simply a way for the College Board and the ACT to get richer. I am happy to hear this news, but this comes years after almost every single college in the country dropped this requirement or refused to ever adopt it. 

Third, for the Classes of 2023 and 2024, the UCs will be test-blind for California residents.

This means that a California student's test scores will not be factored into the admissions process at all. But if you are one of the tens of thousands of out-of-state applicants who applies to the UCs, you will have to wait and see what to do as the Academic Senate will be charged with coming up with an alternative. Stay tuned!

Fourth, by the time the Class of 2025 becomes seniors, the UC hopes to have its own standardized test which students will be expected to take.

If you plan to apply to UC and non-UC colleges, you would need to take the SAT or ACT and also this yet-to-be-developed standardized test for the UCs. How fun. 

RELATED READING: A Plan for Standardized Tests in the Time of Coronavirus

I remember growing up and observing political and industry leaders with agendas. I was a quiet kid who wondered if my voice mattered to them. No matter what, they couldn't see anything but their own plan. Just like a politician getting sworn into office and taking an oath to represent their constituents, university leaders must do the same. Their loyalty should be to the students and making sure their voice is heard as well.
I encourage parents, students, counselors, and advocates like me to speak up so that higher education represents access, not limitations. On the surface, the UCs look like they are paving the way for a new approach in college admissions. But if it means more hoops our kids have to jump through, it's not progress; it's called regression.