California University System Stops Requiring ACT, SAT Scores

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May 16, 2021

It's no more ACT or SAT worry in the Golden State.

The University of California, one of the largest higher education systems in the U.S., has discontinued the practice of taking into account results on the two largest collegiate entrance examinations when considering whether to accept students requesting admission.

The exams, particularly the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), have come under fire in recent years from critics who have charged that the exams disadvantage students who are nonwhite and/or have disabilities. A coalition of advocacy groups and the Compton Unified School District in 2019 filed a lawsuit along those lines. The announcement by the University of California was part of the settlement of that lawsuit. That settlement requires all 10 schools in the UofC system to ignore American College Test (ACT) and/or SAT scores if they do accompany admissions requests and to not require such scores if a student does not supply them. The timeline for such action is autumn of 2021 and spring of 2025.

The UofC system had already agreed to phase out the requirement of such test scores and, indeed, had made the taking of those tests optional for applicants beginning in 2020. The lawsuit targeted the acceptance of such test scores at all.

In all, about 225,000 undergraduate students attend the 10 schools that make up the University of California system. Those schools were part of a widespread movement across the U.S. In fact, more than half of the country's four-year colleges and universities agreed to not require ACT or SAT test results for admissions in both 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, 2.2 million students registered to take the SAT and nearly that many registered to take the ACT. Closures of school and testing centers because of the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with or prevented many students from taking the tests.

The College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, has made various changes in the past few years in response to such criticism:

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