UC System Turns a Blind Eye to Standardized Tests

Alycen Kim, Centerspread editor

Standardized tests ring the same bell of dread for most students. Many people can already imagine the blood, sweat and tears that go into hours upon hours of studying and preparation for a brutally long and difficult exam. 

For many people, standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are the end-all-be-all for the perfect college application: the higher the score, the higher their chances are for getting into the college of their dreams.  

But, as of 2021, all UC college applications submitted that year will eliminate the standardized test score requirement. 

On May 21, the University of California Board of Regents passed a proposal to eliminate the SAT and ACT test requirements on applications for all nine UC schools.

The original plan was to create a test-optional admissions policy for the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 and test-blind for the classes of 2023 and 2024. 

A test-optional policy would mean that students would have the option of submitting their application with or without a standardized test score.

Test-blind would mean that the admissions board will not use students’ test scores to make acceptance decisions. 

On Sep. 1, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman ruled that the test optional policy was unfair to students who lacked access to testing centers or resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, the court ruled that the graduating class of 2021 would have “test- blind” admissions- meaning that no applicants will be required to submit an ACT or SAT test score.  

Advocates of the test- blind policy argue that it allows for more equity during the college admissions process. 

Students who come from impoverished backgrounds may not have all the resources they need to effectively prepare for the exam while students who can afford tutoring programs and expensive books statistically do better.  

A 2015 analysis found that the lowest SAT scores came from students whose families made less than $20,000 a year while the highest scores came from students whose families made more than $200,000.

Test score discrepancies between certain racial groups makes the college admissions board hold collective stereotypes when looking at applications.  

With the new “test- blind” policy, minorities and disadvantaged students will have an equal chance of acceptance. 

However, the demolition of this once important admissions tool could spell trouble for some graduating students.  

The removal of the ACT and SAT requirement is a removal of a vital part of the college admissions process: students now have to focus more on extracurriculars, volunteering, GPA and college essays.

“I think the UC schools going test-blind will serve as a model for other schools who are on the fence about the test- blind option,” junior Izzy Farrow said. 

“Removing the SAT and ACT requirement definitely takes away a big part of the applications process because the tests are really what narrows the applicant pool.”

Now, a lot of schools are moving to test optional or test-blind requirements for incoming admissions. The UC schools’ decision represents an important consideration for the future – turning a blind eye to the flawed standardized testing system and focusing on holistic applications.