I’ve received multiple calls, texts, and emails since the University of California announced yesterday that it was phasing out the SAT and ACT. What does this decision mean for students? What do you need to do?

watch here: 

If you didn’t see my earlier video on how removing SAT / ACT scores changes the focus of your college application, you can view it here: https://youtu.be/f45Dx_z_ahA

If you aren’t a video person, here are some of my notes: (very rough notes, so don’t judge on grammar, parallel structure, complete thoughts, etc.)

I. Immediate consequences

  • Students applying to UC schools in the fall don’t have to worry about the SAT or ACT.
    • Not new news—already removed this requirement in response to corronovirus test cancelations
    • but most students will be applying elsewhere, so still need to test
    • students will still need to test for outside scholarships and National Merit recognition
  • Most of the UC schools had already become so competitive that only top students were getting in.
    • Places greater emphasis on things like class rank
    • Texas—top 10% (6% UT Austin) hasn’t made admission easier—just shifts stress to rank and grades

II. Test optional impact on admissions decisions

  • Test optional often results in students submitting strong scores and colleges considering those as part of the admissions process
    • Good test takers are rewarded because they were able to provide that extra
  • Removing test scores makes the remaining portions of the application more important
    • Part of UC’s goal was to reduce bias—unfortunately the same type of coaching that can help students improve ACT / SAT scores can help students with applications.
    • don’t hire me for test prep—fine—now need to hire me for application and essay coaching

III. Broader implications​

  • some students will lose the chance to show their abilities. I’m thinking of students with lower GPA / class rank who have started on an upward trend and use their scores to prove abilities
  • UC says they might develop their own test. . . ?
    • More prep
    • More testing
    • Another hassle
  • (good) forces all of us in education to question these tests and how they are used
    • Yes, they are imperfect
    • Yes, they are coachable
    • But they do allow for standardized comparison which high school grades do not

IV. What should you do​

  • Keep earning the best grades possible
  • Get and stay involved in activities and organizations
    • Meaningful involvement
  • Plan to take the ACT / SAT and do your best—probably will be asked to send those scores somewhere.
  • Know that if you opt not to send scores to colleges that are test optional, the rest of your application will need to pick up the portion previously carried by scores.

In 5 or 10 years the world of college admissions may look dramatically different (or not). For now, not much has really changed.