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University of California President Submits Plan to End Use of SAT in Admissions

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UC President Janet Napolitano in her office in Oakland on July 17, 2018. (Anne Wernikoff/KQED)

The president of the University of California wants to end the use of the SAT and ACT as admission requirements and replace them with a homegrown test, according to a plan released Monday.

Janet Napolitano’s five-year plan was submitted in advance of a May 21 Board of Regents meeting where a final decision may be made.

She recommended that the regents suspend the current test requirement until 2024 to allow the university to “create a new test that better aligns with the content UC expects applicants to have learned and with UC’s values.”

If UC can’t have a new test available for fall 2025 applicants, Napolitano recommends eliminating its standardized testing requirement for admissions altogether.

If there is a new test, it would be made available to students from out-of-state schools. International students could submit either the new test or scores from the SAT and ACT.


With more than 280,000 students statewide, a decision by the 10-campus UC system would be seen as influential as other colleges nationwide eye similar choices.

Activists have long argued standardized tests put minority and low-income students at a disadvantage. Critics say test questions often contain inherent bias that more privileged children are better equipped to answer and that wealthier students typically take expensive prep courses that help boost their scores, which many students can’t afford.

That was the argument in a lawsuit filed against the UC system in December on behalf of some high school students and nonprofit groups.

A highly anticipated report from a UC faculty task force recommended in February that the SAT and ACT be retained for admissions until a new test is developed.

The report found that standardized tests are better predictors of a student’s success in their first year at UC schools than their high school grade point average. The tests are also a more accurate measure of first-year retention and graduation rates than high school grades, the report said.

The test requirement is moot at the moment. With California high school campuses closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, UC has made the tests optional for students who want to attend the fall 2021 sessions. Napolitano recommends that UC remain test-optional through 2022.

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