Dropping the ACT and SAT from the University of California System

In mid-May, University of California president Janet Napolitano released a plan to phase out the SAT and ACT standardized tests (potentially to be replaced by a new UC system-developed test) over the next five years. The announcement comes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has had a tremendous effect on the operations of higher education institutions across the nation including the adoption of a temporary test-optional policy by many universities for the next one or two admissions cycles. Below is a brief outline of what the five-year plan entails:

For freshmen entering in 2021 and 2022, Napolitano proposes the UC system become test optional. (The system has already done this for 2021, citing COVID-19.) Students who opt to submit SAT or ACT scores will not have to submit the SAT writing test.
For freshmen entering in 2023 and 2024, UC would be test blind, meaning that SAT and ACT scores would not be used in admissions decisions for California residents. Out-of-state applicants could use the new test or the SAT/ACT. Historically, few colleges have gone test blind, but UC would only in part do so. That’s because UC applicants could continue to submit SAT and ACT scores during this period for use in awarding scholarships, and for the state guaranteed admissions provision that grants admission to those in the top eighth of California high schools.
For freshmen entering in 2025, a new admissions test would be created and used instead of the SAT and ACT. All California students would take the test to apply, and it would be made available to private schools and out-of-state schools to use. Nonresidents and international students could submit either SAT/ACT scores or scores on the new test.
If no new test is available by 2025, the state will go fully test blind and eliminate the role of standardized testing in admissions.
This abbreviated plan was made available by Inside Higher Ed. Read their full article here.

So what does this mean for future students?

For the next few freshman classes, it is imperative to continue cultivating your own success using the end targets of college admission and its process (testing, resumés, interviewing, essays, applications). Although test-optional policies will be more prevalent, standardized tests are another channel for students to showcase their strengths and academic achievements in an application process. Moreover, it is important to identify and display your strengths in whichever medium best suits your own personal learning style and to take advantage of admissions offerings like test-optional policies if they best fit your own situation– whether that is with a test score or without. Cultivate students know that the best rule of thumb for whether or not to submit test scores to a potential college or university is the “middle 50% rule.” If your test score falls inside the middle 50% of students previously admitted to that institution (see the institution’s Common Data Set), then you should feel good about sending your scores. Also, at this time “Test Optional” only means that standardized test scores are optional for admissions decisions ONLY– check each institution’s website for specifics on whether or not test scores are necessary to be awarded merit scholarships.

Cultivate classes of 2023 and beyond: keep an open-mind, stay resilient, and continue to reflect on your own choices and your own future. Also, remember that the more opportunities you give yourself to prove your success in high school, the more opportunities will open up in your future college experience– meaning more choices in where you may be able to choose to attend college. The Cultivate approach focuses not only on going through the college admissions process, but more importantly growing through the process. By focusing on personal growth outside of a purely academic perspective, a student can attain and employ the mindsets and abilities colleges look for in the admissions process, which will assuredly be key for future applicants.

For more updates on the developing policies of the UC system as well as how Cultivate Academics can assist you, visit: https://www.cultivatelearninglabs.com/student-support/