In March of last year and largely due to the hardships brought about by the global pandemic, the University of California (UC) announced that they were going to suspend the standardized testing component of the application process for every campus. They stipulated that the SAT and ACT could be submitted as part of an applicant’s profile if they so chose, but otherwise the test portion was made entirely optional.
Emily Engelshcall, the interim associate vice chancellor of Enrollment Services at UCR, credits this decision to the substantial increase in freshman application and admission numbers.
UCR has admitted a groundbreaking number of freshmen for fall 2020, as compared to years past. At 32,522, the number of admitted first-year students rose from over 16% from the previous year.
Engelschall affirmed that the removal of standardized tests created “a space of perceived greater access for admission,” which naturally increased the number of applications. However, despite the significant rise in admissions, she stated that undergraduate enrollment numbers are not projected to increase all that much in comparison to the year prior.
In May of last year, the UC system made the decision to completely alter the standardized testing portion of the university application. This action was influenced by the pandemic, but also by a two-year research effort from 2018 in which UC President Janet Napolitano asked the Academic Senate to evaluate and consider whether or not the UC system and its students reap any real benefits from current standardized testing.
The new initiative proposed by the UC system involves phasing out the traditional SAT and ACT requirement and creating a more appropriate test in order to demonstrate incoming students’ preparedness for higher education. However, it was stated that if a new exam does not readily meet specified standards before fall 2025, the UC system will eliminate the standardized testing portion entirely for all California students.
For those applying for fall 2021 admission and onward, the UC will not require the writing portion of the SAT and ACT, and those scores will not be utilized at all. Additionally, fall 2021 and 2022 applicants may submit their other SAT and ACT scores, but the tests will ultimately not be considered when making admissions decisions or awarding the Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships. Rather, those test scores will be used to determine eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee as a different way of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility, or for course placement after enrollment.
As for fall 2023 and 2024, those applicants will undergo the “test-blind” admissions practice, in which the UCs will not consider test scores for those coming from native Californian public and independent high schools. Though like the years before, test scores may still be used for other purposes like determining course placement, as well as certain scholarships and eligibility for the statewide admissions guarantee.
The official status of standardized testing for fall of 2025 and onward will be determined in the near future.