Letters to the Editor: How rejecting the SAT and ACT injects more bias into UC’s application process

Matt Larriva
Jun 01, 2020

Here, to save the state of education and eradicate bias, comes the UC system with its plan to reject  the SAT and ACT and create its own test—or eschew with testing all together if it can’t do that. What the CollegeBoard (maker of the SAT) and ACT could not do in 100 years, the UC system will do in just under four, with limited time for historical data-gathering, and while balancing a budget crisis, and a pandemic. 

What a novel concept—development of a proprietary school-specific entrance exam. If this sounds familiar, it should: until the early 1900s, most schools had their own specific admissions exams. Harvard hopefuls would have to go to Boston to sit for a test. This was subsequently eliminated and seen as arcane and exclusive—how would a lower-income student apply to multiple schools? Trips sitting for multiple tests would require additional prep, time, and money—a waste indeed. Yet here we are once more, injecting an abstruse admissions process with additional sources of confusion and disparity. In under five years, students who want to apply to both UC and non-UC schools will be met with twice the prep, testing, and opportunity for bias as before. And that’s the best-case. 

On the chance that the UC system cannot create a fairer test, it will eliminate tests all together, implicitly placing more weight on extracurricular activities—a rampant source of income-based disparity. If you thought test prep was expensive, consider the cost of private piano lessons or club sports for 15 years. 

But surely the UC system will figure this all out. Good luck to the out-of-state students, the home-schooled, the scholarship-seekers, and the STEM-major hopefuls—all who still likely still need to take the SAT or ACT (unclear from the UC’s disclosure). 

And all the best to the UC admissions committee, who will sift through 170,000 applicants and try to determine academic strength in an environment of pronounced grade inflation. The UC regents surely thought out this decision and have a plan, after all, it is not as if they went from testing-required to testing optional to test blind all within the span of 90 days…