UC eliminates use of SAT/ACT scores in 2020-2021 admissions cycle


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The University of California (UC) eliminated consideration of SAT and ACT scores in admissions and scholarship decisions after Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, Sept. 1. 

In the lawsuit against the UC Regents brought by five students and six organizations, Seligman ruled the use of standardized testing is particularly biased against students with disabilities who have limited access to testing sites and required accommodations during the pandemic. 

“The decision puts an end to racist tests that deprived countless California students of color, students with disabilities, and students from low-income families of a fair shot at admissions to the UC system,” plaintiffs attorney Mark Rosenbaum said. “The use of the tests break the law — they break California anti-discrimination laws…. If you are a student with a disability in this ‘test-optional’ system, you don’t have the option to take [the tests].”

Prior to the issuing of the injunction, UC Regents enabled campuses to choose whether to adopt a test-optional policy because of lack of access to testing during the pandemic, as 46% of testing centers were closed for the August 29 testing date. UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz decided to drop use of the SAT and ACT in decisions and adopt a test-blind policy on May 21. However, the other UC campuses opted for a test optional policy, accepting scores from applicants who choose to submit them. 

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” counselor Leah Fuller said. “Waiving the testing requirements alleviates students’ stress and anything that relieves student stress is good. However, there is the other side, with the students who studied really hard for the SAT or ACT.”

UC asserts it disagrees with the court ruling, arguing the injunction interferes with efforts to implement comprehensive admissions policies and diversity efforts in a statement released on Tuesday, Sept. 1. It is evaluating whether to pursue further legal actions. If UC ultimately accepts the outcome of the court case, students cannot submit SAT and ACT scores for the upcoming admissions cycle. 

“Especially with the COVID-19 health crisis causing cancelations and even less opportunity inequities, I think the UCs made the right decision,” senior Ben Kim said. “However, I do see the concerns of people who have already taken the SAT and had prospects of using their score as proof of academic progress. I’d implore them to consider that the SAT should never be the one thing that determines your worth and college acceptance prospects.”

Seligman has set a case management conference to meet with the lawsuit plaintiffs and UC tomorrow.