The Hill bookstore on the Irvine campus of the UCI, where 10% of 2019 FVHS graduates go to college. (Photo by Justin Hsieh)
Fountain Valley High School

Roaming Reporter: What do FVHS students think of the court order for UC to be test blind?

As every new school year approaches, high school juniors prepare to take the SAT and/or ACT while seniors work on their college and scholarship applications, which often require students to submit SAT/ACT scores.

This year, however, a judge has ruled that all nine University of California campuses cannot use SAT/ACT scores in judging admissions. The ruling is a result of an October 2019 lawsuit a group of students filed in Alameda County Superior Court against UC overusing SAT/ACT scores in admissions, claiming the tests are unfair and biased.

They argue students who are low-income, for example, may not have the same opportunities to prepare and study for these tests, whereas students from a wealthy family can afford to pay for testing resources and are thus at an advantage.

Prior to the Alameda court ruling, UC voted to drop SAT/ACT requirements for undergraduate admissions in May 2020, allowing its campuses to choose between being test optional or test blind until the fall 2022 admissions cycle. Six UC campuses, including Los Angeles, chose to be test optional while three UC campuses, including Irvine, chose to be test blind.

Here are what some FVHS students and career counselor Irene Yu feel about the ruling.

(Theresa Lee)
“I think a standardized test is unfair because if you have more money you can get tutors … I think that taking out the requirements for an SAT/ACT score on college applications levels out the playing field a bit because now people who live in a low-income community have a better chance … The SAT was something that everyone was preparing for, but now since it is not a huge thing, people are going to have to focus more on their GPA and do more extracurriculars. I am still going to take the SAT even though some 4-year colleges don’t require your scores on the application because I spent a lot of hours studying and I don’t want to let that go to waste,” senior Theresa Lee said.

(Iva Irwin)
“I was not planning on taking the SAT/ACT, to begin with, but it makes me feel less stressed out and I think it will make the admissions process for high school students way easier … I don’t think one singular test should determine whether or not you should get into college, one test cant represent everything you’ve learned in high school. I was not planning on taking the SAT/ACT because I am planning on going to a community college,” senior Iva Irwin said.

(Irene Yu)
“There are multiple things to consider for college admissions, and while the SAT and ACT do impose racial biases and are by no means a perfect exam, a national standardized exam does help admissions officers discern academic potential, and lay a foundation to compare students quickly… However, given the current pandemic, and government safety orders, many students did not have access to the exam and as such, it would be unfair for students to be evaluated had they not taken the exam… That’s certainly a positive, considering many students take the test at least twice. It will save their family money and students’ time in prepping for these exams. Additionally, test-blind admissions greatly benefit students who are not strong test-takers. I don’t believe the acceptance rate will change, but admissions officers will likely need to spend more time looking at the qualitative criteria to decide which students they will admit … The UC’s are test blind; however, not all colleges have adopted this policy. Check the admission requirement on the colleges you wish to apply to for the latest updates on admission,” FVHS College and Career Counselor Irene Yu said.

(Hannah Roberts)
“I feel like the whole point of the SAT and ACT test are for colleges to see how you can learn and recall information, and because of the test being optional for almost 4 years, its harder for colleges to see what kind of students they’re accepting into their programs… I feel like after making this test-optional, it puts less stress on students because in the past students felt like their entire future depended on the scores that they received from the test. I was planning to take the SAT and still am because I want college to know what I can take as a high school and future college student regarding academics,” junior Hannah Roberts said.

(Duclan Ngo)
“Going SAT test blind in a few years is an effective way to level the playing field. Most sophomores and freshmen haven’t taken the test yet, so they lose nothing. People pay thousands of dollars to improve their score, which is a flaw in the SAT system. However, going test blind immediately is extremely unfair to those who’ve already taken the test. The hours spent studying for the SAT are completely wasted, not to mention the fees. I’m a senior now and at every college night I’ve been to, they emphasized good GPAs and strong SAT test scores. If students put in the effort to do well on something the colleges told them they would need to do well on from the start, then their results should be considered. Going immediately test blind does level the playing field, in the same sense that it bulldozes the buildings that are student-built,” senior Duclan Ngo said.

(Roger Nguyen)
“When I first heard the news, I was kind of in shock because my idea of college admissions was HEAVILY reliant on the SAT/ACT. But now, I kind of like the idea of ‘test blindness.’ I’ve always felt like standardized tests aren’t an accurate deprivation of academic comprehension and potential, so this is a great opportunity to redefine what ‘academic achievement’ really is! … Yes, I was planning on taking the SAT this year and the ACT next year. I might still want to take the SAT when tests eventually open. It might not be solely to submit a score into college apps, but I simply want to know how I hold up and where I’m at,” junior Roger Nguyen said.


Editor’s note: The responses in this article have been edited and condensed for clarity.

This article was originally published in the Baron Banner and updated on Sept. 29, 2020 at 10:34 p.m. to include an editor’s note, to correct the manner in which quotes were edited, and to re-quote Ngo in order to represent his position more accurately. Read the Baron Banner’s full statement on this article here.