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UCs Ordered to Go Test-Blind for 2021 Admissions Cycle | Carolyn Cui

This year, the University of California schools will not be able to consider standardized testing scores while evaluating their college applications.

Three days ago, a state court ruled in a preliminary injunction that all schools in the University of California system must go test-blind this year. The judge noted that due to the pandemic, many students may not have had an opportunity to take these exams, particularly students with disabilities who may not have had to accommodations necessary to test.

In this case, going “test-blind” means that these standardized tests are not able to be considered during the admissions process or for scholarships. Historically, these tests have played an integral role in the admissions process and only a handful of colleges have ever gone test-blind until now. The National Association for College Admission Counseling reported that, in 2017, 54.3% of 603 institutions surveyed said SAT/ACT results were of “Considerable Importance” and 27.9% said they were of “Moderate Importance.” Only 4.1% of schools claimed the tests were of “No Importance.”

And all this comes right as seniors are starting to dive headfirst into a tumultuous college application season. The University of California schools are popular options for California residents, providing an excellent education at a cost that won’t break the bank. What could it mean for the other schools they plan to apply to? Many seniors may be relying on their standardized test scores in order to bolster their college application, either to further strengthen it or to counteract a part of their application that isn’t as great.

But, it’s not like this decision wasn’t already on the table. To some, it may have felt like prolonging the inevitable. Maybe we all knew it was going to come, and it wasn’t a matter of if, but when. Three U.C. campuses took this initiative already, actually: as soon as it was apparent that the pandemic would interfere with testing, the Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Irvine campuses decided that they would go test-blind. And a few months ago, as we approached the end of May, the University of California Board of Regents unanimously decided they would go test-blind for California residents entering in 2023 and 2024, and switch to test-optional for 2021 and 2022; students who did want to submit scores would not have to submit the SAT writing test. Even further back, in December 2019, a coalition composed of students and a school district sought to ban these tests from U.C. admissions.

The implications of Sept. 1’s ruling, however, could have more immediate implications for other schools who are on the fence about the usage of SAT/ACT metrics. A number of prestigious institutions have gone test-optional in the wake of the pandemic (meaning test results will be considered, but are not required for admission). Over 400 schools to date, including all eight of the Ivy League schools, have made this announcement, bringing the total to approximately 1,550 schools that have gone test-optional. This ruling could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

As more schools come to a conclusion, there is a lingering question in the heads of some students. Although some states have contracts with the College Board and ACT, which will require the usage of the tests for a little while longer, these contracts will expire at some point. The elephant in the room is then presented: is this the beginning of the end for the SAT and ACT?

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