On March 22, the CSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to eliminate SAT and ACT standardized testing from the undergraduate admissions process for all 23 campuses.
The move would “level the playing field” for students from all backgrounds, allowing greater access to a high-quality college degree, according to Acting Chancellor Steve Relyea.
“In essence, we are eliminating our reliance on a high-stress, high-stakes test that has shown negligible benefit and providing our applicants with greater opportunities to demonstrate their drive, talents and potential for college success,” Relyea said in a CSU news release.
The use of standardized tests in the admissions process has been suspended for two academic years due to hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, ongoing discussions concerning the role of standardized testing in admissions eligibility had taken place prior to the suspension.
Carlsbad High School junior Cate Andersson said that she’s still undecided on whether or not she will be taking the SAT.
“I’ve gone into high school with strong academics but not really being able to perform at high stakes tests,” Andersson said. “So it’s definitely a little bit of a relief to know that it’s something I don’t have to worry about at all.”
The decision for permanent discontinuation comes at the recommendation of the CSU’s Admissions Advisory Council, which includes students, administrators and faculty.
“Why should three, four hours of an ACT or SAT show anyone how good I’m gonna be,” Andersson said. “From what I know of college, it’s a lot more than just school — it’s being able to live on your own, there’s a lot of change involved.”
San Luis Obispo High School guidance counselor Kerry Ingles said the changes she has seen in the admissions process in the past two years have only been positive.
“I love that the data is coming out demonstrating that these tests weren’t the best indicator for college readiness,” Ingles said. “This last year’s class of 2021 that also didn’t have to take the SAT are thriving in college.”
Ingles said that while doing away with the requirement does release some of the pressure, there is still a stigma among students and their families that choosing not to take a standardized test can negatively affect their chances of admission.
“There’s still the underlying culture here and a lot of our students are still taking the test,” she said. “They seem to be relieved, but I don’t know yet if they fully believe it.”
According to university spokesperson Matt Lazier, the scores will not be used in Cal Poly’s admissions process, even if they’re submitted.
“If a student takes a test, we encourage them to submit their scores to be used for course placement purposes,” Lazier said in an email to Mustang News.
Without the use of standardized test scores, Cal Poly’s comprehensive admissions review gives the most weight to a student’s high school courses and GPA.
Unlike the University of California system, CSUs do not require a written statement when applying. However, participation in extracurricular activities and non-cognitive factors are also considered.
“I think this year is a great example of how hard it’s going to be to get into UCs and CSUs without testing,” Andersson said. “I think it’s just gonna shift how we are applying to schools. Instead of trying to fill that with a test score, people will start looking to internships and extracurriculars and that’s gonna make everything a lot more competitive.”