No SAT or ACT Scores at U of California

University agrees it will not consider either test in admissions.

May 17, 2021
U of California at Berkeley
(Kirkikis/Getty Images)

The University of California on Friday agreed to stop considering the SAT and ACT in admissions decisions, settling a court decision that the university lost.

A California judge in September issued a preliminary injunction barring University of California campuses from considering SAT or ACT scores in admissions or financial aid decisions. An appeals court upheld the ruling in November.

The ruling came after the University of California Board of Regents voted, in May 2020, to approve a five-year plan to phase out the use of the SAT and ACT. In the first two years of that plan, the university system was to be test optional, meaning applicants could continue to submit scores, but they didn't have to. Now the university system must be test blind, meaning that no student can submit a test score. But some UC campuses -- including Berkeley -- already were test blind in admissions.

“It’s very exciting to see this settlement as for decades, Black and brown students who can’t afford pricey SAT and ACT test prep and tutors have been at a disadvantage when applying to University of California schools and scholarships,” said Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, the executive vice president of Community Coalition, one of the groups that sued over the admissions policies.

Stett Holbrook, a spokesman for the University of California system, said the university settled to "provide certainty for students and their families, counselors and high schools."

The number of test-optional colleges, pre-pandemic, was 1,070, or 46 percent of such four-year institutions, according to FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Only one four-year college (Hampshire College) was test blind, meaning it would not look at test scores.

In admissions for this fall, about 1,700 four-year colleges were test optional or test blind (73 percent). The number of test-blind colleges was 69.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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