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What Do the New UC and CSU Standardized Testing Requirements Mean For You?

Insights into UC and CSU Standardized Testing Requirements for the 2021-2022 Admissions Season

According to the University of California Application Center, “UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding scholarships.” In other words, UC is test-blind for the high school class of 2022.


Because UC is test-blind, this may mean that other factors such as grades, strength of curriculum, essays, and extracurricular activities might hold even greater weight. So, please consult with your Insight counselor and make sure you are keeping your grades up, taking the strongest curriculum you can handle, writing great application essays, and doing meaningful extracurricular activities.


Regarding the California State Universities (CSUs) there is not currently an official stance on standardized testing requirements that applies to the entire CSU system, so please contact each CSU that you are applying to, in order to find out what their standardized testing requirements are. However, I spoke with the admissions office at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, and it is not considering SAT or ACT scores for the high school class of 2022. So, like the UCs, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo is test-blind for the high school class of 2022.


The most important factors Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo will be considering for admission include GPA, extracurriculars, work experience, and strength of curriculum (what a student does beyond the minimum course requirements).


If you have any questions about the UC and CSU standardized testing requirements for the high school class of 2022 and about how you can make your applications stand out, please contact your Insight counselor.


Finally, it’s very important to remember that just because the UC system and many CSUs are test-blind for the high school class of 2022, this doesn’t mean the end of standardized testing. In fact, the data shows that for the high school class of 2021 (when many schools were test-optional) the students that submitted good SAT or ACT scores—especially to elite colleges and universities—were more likely to have gained admission. In other words, it is still important to prepare for and take the SAT or ACT.

Need help preparing for the SAT or the ACT? Check out our ACT Boot Camps or SAT Classes.

Are you worried about the recent cancellations/postponements of the SAT and ACT? 

Are you wondering if any schools have changed their testing requirements and whether you should still take standardized tests?  If so, please read on for important information from Insight counselor Jason.


The University of California system has been debating for years about whether to eliminate its SAT/ACT requirement.


While standardized testing advocates say the tests predict college readiness and can help identify promising disadvantaged students with lower GPAs, anti-test advocates claim that standardized testing makes admissions less fair since higher test results are correlated with higher family incomes. Earlier this year UC decided to keep the SAT/ACT requirement. 


However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and all the uncertainty students now face, both the UC and CSU systems have decided that the SAT/ACT will not be required for students applying for Fall 2021 freshman admission. 



University of California Testing Policies

According to UC’s April 1, 2020 Counselors and Advisers Bulletin:


“UC will suspend the standardized test requirement (SAT and ACT) for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission. This modification is not intended as an admissions policy shift but is rather a temporary accommodation driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.”


Additionally, according to a FAQ posted on the UC admissions website:


“Students applying for Fall 2021 are not precluded from taking standardized tests (SAT or ACT) and sending scores if they are able. Doing so can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements.


Campuses will adjust their internal processes accordingly to ensure that no student is harmed in admissions selection should they not submit a test score.”




California State University Testing Policies

Not long after the UC’s announced their policy, the California State University (CSU) schools followed suit.


The CSU system announced that they will not use test scores to determine eligibility for the fall 2021 class.


According to CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, “This temporary change will ensure equitable access to the university and should provide some measure of relief to prospective students and their families.”


Under the new CSU admissions policy, first-time freshmen for the term of fall 2021 must meet the new requirements to have earned a high school diploma, completed their “A-G” requirements, and have earned a GPA of 2.5 or better. 



What Does this Mean for Me?

In other words, if you are a student applying for freshman admission to a UC or CSU campus for fall 2021, you do not have to take the SAT or ACT. 


However, if you have already taken the SAT or ACT or are able to take the SAT or ACT in the future, submitting your score may have a real positive impact on your application and UC graduation requirements. 


As a result, people should not assume that getting into a UC will be significantly easier next year – that would be a mistake.


Additionally, as of now, this does not impact the class of 2022 or 2023 – so current sophomores and freshmen should not work under the assumption that testing will not be required for admission to the UCs or CSUs.  


What are Other Colleges Doing?

Also, it is important to note that not all colleges have dropped the testing requirement. As a result, students should plan to test if they will be applying to even one college that has not made that announcement.


Students applying for very competitive and specialized programs should still be planning to take the appropriate tests.  If you are wondering whether you should be testing, please consult with an Insight counselor.


Finally, although this latest news about the UCs/CSUs may be great for current high school juniors that don’t test well and that want to attend a UC or CSU, this is definitely not the time to stop testing. 



Concluding Thoughts

We want to emphasize that even though the UCs and CSUs have dropped their testing requirement for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission, as of now this change only affects that group. 


Many colleges and specialized programs still require standardized testing (including the UCs—except for fall 2021 freshman admission).


During these unprecedented and uncertain times, please remember that Insight counselors are here to discuss your college admissions and testing plans. Overall, this UC and CSU news is good, but should be taken cautiously.  



Written by Jason Katz

This article was written by Insight Counselor Jason Katz.

Jason has helped hundreds of students gain admission to their best-fit universities. In addition, he wrote more than 170 college admissions/college life columns for the Palo Alto Daily News and the San Jose Mercury News. Read his full bio here.

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