The UC system recently announced that they are changing their standardized admissions requirements in the coming years. In this blog, we will discuss the new testing policies and whether this is a good decision from an admissions standpoint.
Test-Optional and Test-Blind
The UC system announced that the next two admissions cycles will be test-optional. This means current rising seniors will not have to send in a score, but if they believe it will help their application they are may. This policy applies to in-state and out-of-state students.
The two years following the test-optional policy, the UC’s will switch to test-blind for all in-state students. This means current students finishing 8th and 9th grade will not be allowed to send in an SAT or ACT score in their admissions application. SAT and ACT scores will only be considered for applying to scholarships or if you are an NCAA student-athlete.
What Is Test-Blind?
If you’re confused about what test-blind means, you’re not alone. This is because barely any schools in the whole country are test-blind.
One theory why schools are not test-blind is because of rankings. U.S News and World Report publish the most prestigious college rankings in the country. The higher a college is on the list, the more prestigious the college is and as a result, they tend to get the best students. U.S News does not rank test-blind schools and this has dissuaded many colleges.
The UC system is very unique in that is has a giant pool of in-state students as well as out-of-state students applying every year. If they go, test-blind for in-state students, what will happen to their ranking?
According to Robert Morse, the chief data strategist at U.S News, “U.S News doesn’t currently rank test-blind schools but does rank test-optional schools. The University of California’s new policy would still be test-required or test-optional in terms of the SAT/ACT for out-of-state and international students. This would not be considered test-blind by our current methodology. As always, we review industry changes and adjust accordingly to provide consumers with the most useful information available.”
It doesn’t sound like the UC’s will be booted off the rankings list as long as the SAT and ACT are still required for out-of-state and international students.
What Colleges are Test-Blind?
Sarah Lawrence was test-blind in 2012 but removed that policy after a year because they didn’t like not being ranked and found that it affected their admissions.
Hampshire College has been test-blind since 2014. As a result, they saw a decrease in the number of applicants but an increase in the number of low income and minority students enrolled.
Other schools that are test-blind are Northern Illinois University, Loyola University New Orleans, and the University of New England.
A New Standardized Test
A major part of the UC’s going test-blind is so they can unveil a new standardized test just for the UC system. The UC’s were criticized for this plan because switching standardized tests doesn’t fix the inequalities standardized tests produce. There’s also criticism that a UC test will decrease the number of students who apply to UC schools.
Should Colleges Continue to Use Standardized Tests?
A study from the UC’s conducted earlier this year found that test scores were a better predictor of student success in college than GPA. Therefore, the academic senate voted 51 to 0 to continue using standardized tests in admissions. But, the board of regents (composed of wealthy adults with influence but are not educators) voted to get rid of standardized tests.
Test-optional seems to be the option that would give students the best of both worlds. Students who are good test-takers can show their intelligence on the SAT or ACT. But students who are not strong test-takers can show their talents in other ways on their application. Making tests test-optional takes the weight off of the exam and shows the college that tests don’t measure everyone’s intelligence equally.
It’s unclear whether test-blind will yield the advantages as test-optional does. Test-blind means students must rely on other parts of their application to shine, such as the essay, which is subjective, or their GPA, which can be inflated/deflated and non-representative of their true intelligence.
The UC system will be the first prestigious university system to go test-blind, and it will be an experiment with unpredictable results.