University of California Drops ACT and SAT-Forever?
If you have children who are about to begin their journey to college, a few changes are about to happen in college admissions. The most prominent is that more college admissions processes will be test optional. There are fewer opportunities to take the ACT or the SAT–and more questions about how those tests matter in college admissions. The University of California system has opened the door to more questions about their value.
Recently, the chancellor of the University of California system proposed a bold plan to transition away from the ACT and the SAT. The universities will go test optional test optional for the next two years, then go test blind. Afterwards, the university system may have its own admissions test.
This plan was approved unanimously by the system’s Board of Regents. While UC Merced and possibly UC Riverside could remain test blind, other system campuses have more selective admissions. But test blind admissions system wide will be unrealistic over the long term.
Here’s a few reasons why.
- Test scores might be necessary to compare similar applicants with similar grades who come from the same high school.
- They may be necessary for UC campuses to maintain high rankings in the media parents and trustees value.
- Test scores might also be necessary to consider students who are interested in impacted majors.
These are three good reasons why the chancellor alluded to the possibility that the university system might have its own test within five years. A task force report released in February mentioned that it would take eight years to develop a test.
Whatever test the UC system develops will have a major impact within and outside of California. It could become the national standard for a standardized test. California is too large a market for admissions directors and politicians to ignore. Out-of-state admissions directors will accommodate the market.
There’s a fear that California residents would be forced to take two standardized tests if a UC system exam was required for admissions. But it’s doubtful that the UC Regents and the state’s politicians will allow that to happen. The college admissions process is stressful enough to prepare to take one test more than once. Private colleges and out-of-state public colleges will accept the results of a UC designed exam, especially those within the PAC 12 and other rival sports conferences. Any school that relies on California residents to fill its classes will have no choice. More schools might elect to go test optional, believing that the scores are unnecessary. But many high school juniors and seniors still use high scores to help them to make their case for admissions.
Within the PAC 12 four schools outside of California are test optional: Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Oregon State. Washington State University, which uses assured admissions, bases admission on class rank and grades. But test scores may be needed for admissions to selective majors and honors colleges at all of these schools. USC will be test optional for one year. But that school already has exceptionally selective admissions. While USC might not need test scores to consider drama or film applicants, it may want them for business, sciences or engineering. Californians also apply to other schools in the Western Undergraduate Exchange that still require test scores.
The University of California System has experts who are qualified to design a test.
The faculty had the expertise to form a task force that researched the issue thoroughly. Surely, they will want to be a part of the solution. The university system also needs revenue streams. It already receives royalties from work developed in its laboratories. Why shouldn’t it own the rights to the national exam? The University of California system is respected worldwide. Six UC campuses are members of the Association of American Universities. These schools were selected for the quality of their research. It will take the work of diligent researchers to design a credible and fair test, and time is on their side.
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