The UC system has officially shut down SAT and ACT scores as part of both scholarship consideration and admission consideration through Spring of 2025. We’re going to talk about what happened and court decision was involved. We’ll offer some commentary from the perspective of a test prep professional and independent college consultant.
The UC system has already adopted a test blind or test optional policy for a period of four years, even before this announcement. This Spring, all UC colleges had to go test blind. Going forward, this will stay the same. This will affect anyone who is in high school right now. As of May 2021, and if you’re a Freshman, Sophomore, or Junior, you do not need an SAT or ACT score to apply to any UC. They won’t even look at it if you do submit it.
Some UC faculty disagree with this decision. We talk about this in another video. To summarize that, some studies found that test scores were more predictive of student success at UC colleges than GPA due to grade inflation.
Are Tests Unfair?
While test performance sometimes correlate with wealth, educational access and quality correlate with wealth more than anything else. The education system is inherently unfair, and blaming these differences on standardized tests doesn’t amount to much. The difference in SAT score between students often comes down to the quality of education they start with and how hard they want to work. It’s not an easy fix to just hire a tutor either.
Like other tutors, Brooke is not a magician, and her coaching only helps when students work their bottoms off. Coaching and tutoring works by holding the student accountable for working very hard. Working hard independently is definitely not impossible without paying a tutor. At the end of the day, if a student doesn’t do the work, spending money for a tutor will not magically increase their score.
One of the criticisms of going test blind is that admissions are holistic. While people condemn tests for being unfair, the holistic admission process is just as biased, if not more biased, than standardized tests. For example, personal essays are much easier to game than a standardized test. Some students even have their parents write their essay for them because they can’t write. Consulting a college coach also significantly helps students hone down the interesting parts of their narrative. Not everyone has access to resources like these.
Fact checking essays is also a big issue. Sob stories are often very effective, and they are really easy to fabricate. People embellish. People make things up. This isn’t fair, and cheating on tests is orders of magnitudes harder than cheating on the application in other ways.
The other holistic factors such as activities aren’t any more fair than tests either because wealth correlates with those too. Teacher recommendations can also be biased, racist, sexist, classist, or whatnot, and this is another factor considered in the holistic process.
In any case, removing tests might not exactly make college admissions more fair.
Does Does Removing Tests Make Admissions More Fair?
If anything, removing the SAT/ACT may lower admission rates, increase competition for other metrics like AP Exams and school grades. It’ll put pressure on the WOW factor even more. This certainly isn’t the healthiest or fairest way to move forward. Giving kids more access will allow awesome kids to get ahead.
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