by Sara Calvert-Kubrom, former admissions officer at Lewis & Clark College

On May 21, 2020, the University of California Board of Regents approved substantial changes to their standardized testing policies, changes that will drastically alter the nine-campus system’s undergraduate admission process. For the past two years the UCs have been evaluating the role of standardized testing in their admission process and we were eagerly awaiting the news. The extent of the changes, however, came as a surprise to many.

In a gradual five-year process, the UCs will phase out use of the ACT and SAT, with the goal of creating their own college readiness exam. If they have not created an exam at the end of the five-year period, they will eliminate standardized testing requirements for California residents.

Here is a quick summary of what families need to know based on the year of application:

Applicants to Fall 2021 and 2022:

  • ACT/SAT scores are not required for any applicants, but they will consider test scores if a student submits them. Strong scores can increase the chance of admission, while the absence of scores will be neutral.
  • The essay/writing requirement for the exams is eliminated, so scores can be submitted without that previously required section.

Applicants to Fall 2023 and 2024:

  • The UCs will not use ACT/SAT scores in evaluating California residents applying for admission. Scores can, however, be utilized for some scholarships and eligibility in the local context admission guarantee. Additionally, scores may be used for class placement once a student has enrolled at a UC.
  • The UC system has yet to determine what the testing requirements will be for non-California residents.

2025 and Beyond:

  • Two possibilities:
    1. If the UCs have developed their own standardized test, all California residents will apply with scores from this exam, which will also be made available to out-of-state applicants. Testing requirements for international students are yet to be determined.
    2. If the UCs have not launched their own exam, they will eliminate all standardized testing requirements for California residents, while requirements for out-of-state applicants (including international students) will be determined by 2025.

If you are curious to learn more about the mounting list of test optional, flexible, and blind colleges, take a look at FairTest’s Optional List an up-to-date compilation of colleges that do not require standardized testing.

College Application Prep 101

Written by Sara Calvert-Kubrom
Sara Calvert-Kubrom is a member of College Coach's team of college admissions consultants and a former admissions officer at Lewis & Clark College and leader of the N.U.in Program at Northeastern University. Visit our website to learn more about Sara Calvert-Kubrom.