BY KEA YENGST
While COVID-19 has prevented many students around the world from playing sports, seeing friends or even joining new clubs, the Class of 2021 has received some lenience this year in the college application process, especially since this year many colleges have made the submission of standardized testing optional.
With the endless number of test centers canceling their test dates earlier this year, students in the Class of 2021 have been unable to take the SAT, the ACT and many other supplemental tests for college admissions.
Some schools, including the University of California system, have even announced on their official websites that their applications will not require standardized tests for upcoming years, while others, including Ivy League schools, are playing it by year depending on the impacts of COVID-19.
“Today’s decision by the Board marks a significant change for the University’s undergraduate admissions,” said former UC President Janet Napolitano on the official website for the University of California system, referring to changes made on May 21. “We are removing the ACT/SAT requirement for California students and developing a new test that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC.”
According to the official U.C. website, the system will make the SAT and ACT optional for fall admissions in 2021 and 2022, meaning that students do not have to submit their test scores. For 2023 and 2024 admissions, however, they will make those tests “blind” factors in admissions, meaning that students can submit them if they choose, but will only be considered for course placements and scholarships.
The U.C. board of directors also plans to create their own standardized test for fall 2025 admissions and beyond. Details about where the test will be administered, how it will be proctored or how the test will be formatted have not been established yet, but the finalization of format and material for the test itself is expected to be complete by 2021.
Grace Craig-Fulford, a senior at Carmel High School who plans on applying to the UCs this fall, thinks that the new requirement in the system’s application process is for the better.
“It was a necessary step to take. Even before the pandemic, there was a lot of controversy about whether or not those tests created unnecessary barriers to disenfranchised groups,” Craig-Fulford says. “A lot of stress has been alleviated, but now it (the test-optional plan) assumes that all teachers and schools grade in the same way, and factors such as grades, essays and extracurriculars will be more important this year.”
Stevie Dean, a junior at CHS, also has opinions on the lack of requirement and how it may completely change the college application process and its evaluations.
“It gives equal opportunity to those who don’t have the resources to study for standardized tests,” Dean says. “At the same time, it may cause a weird transitional stage as colleges try to compensate for this adjustment.”
Most other recognized university systems are planning to make only this year’s admissions cycle test optional, but as of September 2020 are planning to make testing mandatory in coming admissions cycles.
Test optionality is not anything new to the college application world. In fact, colleges like the American University in Paris, France, and Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, have not required the SAT prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For now, the College Board and ACT organizations are still planning on administering their tests in the coming years, no matter what circumstances or new optionalities applications bring. Both organizations even added extra dates to their fall administrations to accomodate any current seniors or juniors who were not able to take the test in the spring.
The College Board also plans to add a new make-up date in late January 2021 for the PSAT, which is usually taken by juniors in October. The test is expected to be administered on Oct. 14 of this year and will have alternate testing dates including Oct. 17 and Oct. 29.
With test optionality becoming the new normal for many well-known universities and institutions, the SAT and ACT may just become supplemental factors in the admissions process for years to come.