University of California Will No Longer Consider SAT and ACT Scores

The University of California, Berkeley, is one of the U.C. campuses across the state that will no longer consider SAT and ACT scores for admissions or scholarships. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)
[ – 2021.05.15] The University of California will not take SAT and ACT scores into account in admissions or scholarship decisions for its system of 10 schools, which include some of the nation’s most sought-after campuses, in accordance with a settlement in a lawsuit brought by students.

The settlement announced on Friday signals the end of a lengthy legal debate over whether the University of California system should use the standardized tests, which students of color and those with disabilities have said put them at a disadvantage.

Some 225,000 undergraduate students attend University of California schools, and the settlement this week makes the system the largest and best-known American institution of higher education to distance itself from the use of the two major standardized tests.

The settlement resolves a 2019 lawsuit brought by a coalition of students, advocacy groups and the Compton Unified School District, a largely Black and Hispanic district in Los Angeles County. The plaintiffs said that the college entrance tests are biased against poor and mainly Black and Hispanic students — and that by basing admissions decisions on those tests, the system illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth and disability.

In January, the College Board, which produces the SAT, said that it would scrap subject tests and the optional essay section, further scrambling the admissions process.

The newly announced settlement says that no University of California schools can consider SAT or ACT scores in determining admission offers for students applying for entry between fall 2021 and spring 2025. If scores are submitted by students, they will not be viewed by those looking over admissions applications, the settlement said.

Critics of the ACT and SAT have raised concerns that the tests put less wealthy students at a disadvantage, citing decades of data indicating that they are inherently biased in favor of affluent, white and Asian-American students. They also say the tests are too easily gamed by students who can pay thousands of dollars for private coaching and test prep.

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