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  • Writer's pictureAli Mansouri

UC System Removes SAT/ACT Requirement: Should You Still Take the Test?

Updated: Apr 7, 2020



It's no April Fools joke: In response to recent Covid-19 related academic disruptions, the UC System announced on Wednesday April 1st that they were relaxing some admission requirements for the Class of 2021, including no longer requiring the SAT or ACT standardized test.


What Are The Changes?


The main changes announced are:


  1. Suspending the letter grade requirement for A-G courses completed in the winter, spring, and summer of 2020 for all students. Normally, students need to get a C or better in certain required categories to be eligible for admission to the UC system. Now, even if a student's school changes the way some of their classes are graded from letter grades to pass/fail or credit/no credit, they can still have those classes count (if they pass).

  2. Allowing already admitted students to miss the official transcript deadlines without losing their admission

  3. Suspending the standardized testing requirement for students applying for Fall 2021 admission


Can Students Still Send in SAT or ACT Test Scores?


The UC admissions website clearly states that students applying for the Fall 2021 can still stake standardized tests and send them if they are able to. It then states,


Doing so [sending in a SAT or ACT score] can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements


However, the UC emphasizes,


No student is harmed in admissions selection should they not submit a test score

Will Sending in an SAT or ACT Score Help Students?


This is is where things get a little tricky. Some people are reading the UC's announcement as more broadly stating that SAT or ACT scores will have zero impact on admission decisions. Such a decision would seem unfair to students that already took the SAT or ACT and got a good score.


When asked about this directly via email, the UC Application center responded that,


It will be up to each campus to individually decide how they use any and all test scores that are sent in for the Winter/Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 terms.

It is likely that there will be more clarification provided in the coming months about this. However based on the information we have today, it suggests that the UC admission committee still will consider standardized tests sent to them.


So if a student can get a fairly high SAT or ACT score, it could strengthen their application. This is currently the case for a number of 'Test Optional' schools. For example the University of Chicago, one of the most selective schools in the nation, recently turned test optional. Even though the SAT and ACT were not required to get in the school, 85 to 90% of the students admitted in Fall 2019 still did submit them.


What Should a Student that Does Not Want to Take the SAT or ACT Do?


The UC has emphasized that not taking standardized tests will not hurt any students. Despite this, if a student does not want to take the SAT or ACT, they should strongly think about other elements of their college admission package. GPA is undeniably most important metric. But beyond GPA, extracurricular activities and the personal insight statements are critical too.


This is particularly important for students that plan not to take the SAT or ACT now that it is temporarily not required. Too many students do not think about their personal insight statements until their senior year. The current situation surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak has both negative and positive implications on extracurricular.


On the one hand, it may be difficult to do many more common extracurricular activities as long as social distancing and quarantines are in place. Students probably can not longer volunteer for summer camps, have many jobs, or be involved in certain club activities.


However it is important to remember that many of the personal insight statement questions specifically ask about academic challenges that students have had to overcome. This current situation is certainly an academic challenge! Merely stating that is not enough. But finding creative ways to get through this difficult time can certainly add some value to a student's application.


Is This a Permanent Change?


As of now, the UC is stating that this is just a temporary change, stating that,


This modification to the test requirement is not intended as an admissions policy shift but is rather a temporary accommodation driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.

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