PRO: Pros and Cons of the UC System going test-blind to SAT and ACT scores
On Monday, Aug. 31, California judge Brad Seligman issued a preliminary injunction requiring University of California campuses to go test-blind in admissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to insidehighered.com. While this is progress in achieving a more equitable college admissions system, it is a short term fix for an issue that requires a lasting solution.
The UC system has suspended the standardized test requirement for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024 and intends to develop their own test. Many other colleges and universities have waived standardized test scores from their 2021 and 2022 applications as well. Yet for students who managed to obtain a coveted testing slot, the option to submit their scores only increases their odds of admission. Thus, a test-blind policy is the only way to ensure equity between all applications.
Although some UC campuses have gone test-blind, many campuses are accepting scores, giving students a “second look.” Essentially, if a student may not be accepted based on their application alone but their test score sways the admissions decision, that is an edge over those who were unable to test. Students who have already taken the SAT or ACT and scored well are likely eager to submit their scores. However, this option is unfair to any students who are unable to obtain accommodations for disability, or who simply cannot find any open testing sites in time to submit their applications.
Standardized testing has faced increasing pressure to develop more equitable methods, as studying for the SAT and ACT is almost necessary to receive a competitive score. Furthermore, the tests are pricey, especially if one chooses to test more than once. Of course, fee waivers are available for low-income students, as are accommodations for disability. At SCHS, students are able to take each exam once at no cost, a luxury not every school provides.
The SAT and ACT are quickly becoming a less-than-optimal method of determining qualifications for college admission. Students are forced to direct part of their attention to an additional exam when they could be taking in-depth classes, or gaining real-world experiences. The focus should be on creating a system to accurately measure student GPAs, and placing a greater emphasis on extracurricular activities and enrichment. Instead, students have yet another test to study for.
While this new ruling is a victory for equity and fairness among UC applicants, it does not solve the larger issue that standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, are naturally skewed in favor of students who are more socio-economically privileged. All colleges and universities should give serious thought to phasing out these tests and creating a more equitable admissions system. The injunction barring UCs from considering standardized tests scores in admissions is a step in the right direction.
CON: Pros and Cons of the UC System going test-blind to SAT and ACT scores
Last Monday, Aug. 31, California judge Brad Seligman ruled that the University of California system will no longer be able to use SAT or ACT scores until the fall of 2024, effective immediately for the freshman applicants of the 2021 Fall Semester. The prohibition of considering scores came with the intent to even the odds of acceptance between underprivileged and disabled students, and privileged, non-disabled ones along with plans to develop a new test specifically for the UCs.
However, to immediately suspend the use of standardized testing for current UC applicants for the upcoming fall semester is a loss to those who have already taken the SAT and ACT.
As the majority of 2021 Fall Semester UC applicants are seniors, most have already taken the SAT and ACT during their junior year by school requirements – similar to SCHS, who annually has all juniors take the SAT during school in March. If not by school requirements, most Bay Area high school students are encouraged by school culture to take the SAT and ACT and to start preparing for standardized testing as early as sophomore year.
Although students who have not taken these tests or those who were not satisfied with their scores are relieved to not have to report them to UCs, this decision negatively affects students who previously invested in standardized testing as a way to strengthen their applications. Students who have had low or failing letter grades in their past years now lose a chance at redemption. Months of studying and preparation or paid tutoring can no longer come to fruition.
In a Sept. 1 statement, the University of California system said it “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.” According to their statement, this may interfere with their efforts to implement appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and their ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Although this decision will benefit future UC applicants in the long run, this year’s applications are due in two months. With such short notice, current seniors are left scrambling to improve their applications in other ways, such as the Personal Insight questions or counselor recommendations, leaving behind their wasted efforts on the SAT and ACT.