No More SAT/ACT for CSU Admissions

The change was unanimously accepted by the California State University Board of Trustees, aligning the country’s largest four-year university system with the “test free” admissions method already in place at the University of California college system.

The California State University system has 477,000 students enrolled in its 23 colleges around the state, while the University of California system has approximately 280,000 students enrolled in its ten campuses.

Last year, the University of California Board of Regents agreed to eliminate the necessity for standardized test admissions at its undergraduate schools, which include the famed UC Berkeley and UCLA campuses.

Acting Chancellor of the California State University system, Steve Relyea, applauded the decision, saying that it will help “level the playing field and enable greater access to a high-quality college degree for students from all backgrounds.”

Critics have long claimed that standardized tests harm minority and low-income college candidates, making them ineligible for admission. Students from wealthier families can afford to pay for expensive standardized test preparation classes that often help them improve their scores.

“In essence, we’re getting rid of a high-stress, high-stakes test that hasn’t shown any benefit,” Relyea said in a statement.

During the pandemic, California’s public colleges, like many others around the country, postponed the exams and did not require them during the college admissions process for the 2021–22 and 2022–23 academic years.

According to Bob Schaeffer, executive director of FairTest, a Boston-based anti-testing organization, more than 1,800 schools and universities, or about 80 percent of U.S. four-year campuses, have implemented test-optional or score-free policies for fall 2022 applicants.

The decision by the State of California and the university systems in California to make the ban permanent will “establish a norm for public higher education across the country,” Schaeffer says.

“It’s no coincidence that identical policies are now in place in so many other public systems, from Washington state to Maine,” he said, “the entire country is watching California and, for the most part, following its lead.”

CSU is a public university system with 23 campuses across California. The change it makes will greatly affect hundreds of thousands of its applicants. Photo: Justefrain / Licensed under CC BY 3.0

Students can still submit SAT or ACT results, which will not be evaluated for admissions but may aid in their placement for English and math courses, according to Toni Molle, a spokesman for the California State University system.

During the pandemic, the system suspended the requirement for standardized tests. Instead, it relied on a “multi-factor admissions score” that allowed campuses to consider applicants’ GPA, extracurricular activities, and leadership roles, as well as whether they were first-generation college applicants or came from schools with a high percentage of low-income students.

A systemwide advisory panel comprised of teachers, students, administrators, and student leaders researched whether the tests should be eliminated and made a recommendation to the Cal State college system’s board of trustees.

Diego Arambula, a board trustee, said it was critical to remove the mandate because “lowering the stress and injustice that exists now is crucial.”

Yammilette Rodriguez, another board trustee, believes that eliminating standardized examinations will help children avoid the difficulties she faced as a student at a rural high school that “lacked college support.”

She had a 4.0 GPA, but she had no choice but to attend a community college before transferring to California State University, Fresno because she missed SAT deadlines.


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