(Los Angeles Times)
Arnold O. Beckman High School

UC colleges go test-optional in consideration for COVID-19

On April 1, the University of California institutions announced that the application requirements for the class of 2021 will be eased by the elimination of SAT or ACT scores as well as the minimum GPA requirement. This was due to the unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 and its life-changing effects on countless families across the world.

More than 200,000 prospective students apply to UC campuses each year, according to a UC student affairs fact sheet. High school students who will potentially apply in the fall of 2021 are engaging in a curriculum that is foreign: online distance learning.

Online distance learning is a new platform that can potentially hinder students’ ability to concentrate and definitely is disparate from traditional classroom learning. Since these students, specifically juniors as this year is potentially the “most important” year of high school, have been experiencing such changes, UC institutions believed that there needed to be a change.

Not only that, but SATs in March and May and ACT in April were all canceled due to COVID-19, and this also became a hindrance in taking standardized testing. International students have been impacted, even more, they are required to obtain an English-language proficiency test score on top of simply SATs and ACTs, and those, like TOFEL or IELTS, have been canceled in countless nations.

The official modification to admission requirements are the following, according to the L.A. Times:

  • Suspending the letter grade requirement for the 15 prescribed college-preparatory courses completed in winter/spring/summer 2020 for all students, including UC’s most recently admitted freshmen.
  • Suspending the standardized test requirements for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission
  • No rescission of student admissions offers that result from students or schools missing official final transcript deadlines. Also, admission will be honored through the first day of class until official documents are received by campuses.
  • For transfer students, temporarily suspending the cap on the number of transferable units with Pass/No Pass grading applied towards the minimum 60 semester/90 quarter units required for junior standing.

Other private and public colleges as well took action before the UCs. Tufts University, a prestigious institution in Medford, Massachusetts also took off standardized testing requirements. In fact, Tufts adjusted the requirements for a three-year period, in consideration for the current high school freshmen that have been impacted by COVID-19. In addition, the University of Oregon also made standardized testing optional.

This news brought about positive responses overall in the high school community, as a lot of burdens has been taken off juniors’ backs.

“When I heard the news, I couldn’t believe it,” Madeline Pak, a junior at Arnold O. Beckman High School said. “With coronavirus happening, I was genuinely worried about my SATs as I was betting on the March and May test dates. UC schools are my dream schools, and by them getting rid of standardized testing requirements, I’m more than relieved.”

Following the UCs, more schools may follow the decision to remove standardized testing requirements, allowing juniors that do not have an SAT or ACT score to apply to even more institutions.