UC President Proposes Dropping SAT/ACT Requirement

After 5 years, 10-campus system could develop its own test

UC President Proposes Dropping SAT/ACT Requirement

University of California President Janet Napolitano wants to stop using the SAT and ACT as admission requirements and replace them with a new test created for the 10-campus system–or scrap standardized testing entirely, according to a plan released Monday. 

Napolitano’s five-year plan, released Monday in her agenda for the May 21 UC Board of Regents meeting, calls for the university to continue to make tests optional through 2022 (test are optional for 2021 because of Covid-19 restrictions), and then suspend use of tests through 2024.

During this time the university would “create a new test that better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC’s values.” If UC can’t have a new test available for fall 2025 applicants, Napolitano recommends eliminating its standardized testing requirement for admissions altogether.

A move to eliminate the SAT and ACT by the 10-campus system with more than 280,000 students could shake up college admissions nationwide. 

Critics of the exams have long held that standardized tests disadvantage low-income and minority students. 

Napolitano’s proposal noted that “in 2018, 37 percent of CA resident freshman admits were from underrepresented minorities compared to 59 percent of high school graduates.” It goes on to note that  “test scores play some role (in the gap), but are not the primary barrier to admission.”

The recommendation differs from a proposal by the UC Academic Senate, which voted unanimously this past winter to keep tests for five years while alternatives were sought.

UC President Janet Napolitano

UC President Janet Napolitano’s proposal in UC Regents May 21 Meeting Agenda

Report of the UC Academic Council Standardized Testing Task Force