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UC & CSU Drop Standardized Testing and More for 2020 Fall Applications

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Wednesday, April 20, 2020 Updates: CSU also drops ACT and SAT test requirements for Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. UC agrees to give college credit for new shorter AP tests where applicable

University of California announces that it will ease some admissions requirements for fall 2020. This directly affects newly admitted UC freshmen, current juniors who will be in their senior year and applying to college in fall 2020, and transfer students. There are approximately 200,000 prospective freshmen and transfer students applying to the UC each year.

This action is in direct response to the educational disruption and uncertainty of the current health crisis and the disruption to education. With many high schools going to online instruction, considering going to pass/fail grading, or reducing course offerings, and cancelled or postponed SAT/ACT testing, the University of California ("UC") are easing admissions requirements. UC President Janet Napolitano said, "The University's flexibility at this crucial time will ensure prospective students aiming for UC get a full and fair shot--no matter their current challenges." The California State University also dropped the SAT/ACT testing requirement.

UC eases the following:

  • Suspending the standardized test requirement for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission. (current high school juniors)

  • Suspending specific letter grade requirements for the 15 UC required a-g courses completed in winter/spring/summer 2020 for all students, including recently admitted freshmen

  • No rescission of student admission offers due to the student or school missing the official final transcript submissions deadlines.

  • Admissions will be honored through the first day of freshman classes until official documents are received by the university.

  • AP Tests: There is no official decision yet on the impact on AP test scores for May 2020

  • Transfer students: temporary suspension on the cap of the number of transferable units graded with a Pass/No Pass grade, which requires 60 semester/90 quarter units for transfers to be given junior standing.

What does this mean?

This is not a permanent policy, it is being put into place for this specific fall 2021 application cycle only.

Please also note: UC deadline to accept an offer of admission and send in a deposit for enrollment is still May 1 for freshmen, June 1 for transfers. (As of April 1, 2020) This may change, students who need additional time or deferment of a deposit should contact the UC campus directly to ask for flexibility. SAT/ACT:

Whether or not the UC will require the standardized testing with or without essay for the SAT and ACT in the future is currently under debate

This is basically a "test-optional" policy. If students have already taken the SAT or ACT and have done well, they are encouraged to submit their scores which will be used in the application process and to award scholarships, merit, or college credit. Most high school students take the tests in spring of junior year and/or fall of senior year. The UC is trying to relieve pressure on current juniors planning to apply to the UC. UC applications can be submitted only from November 1-30, 2020.

The UC understand that circumstances affect the students' ability to take the tests. Eddie Comeaux, Head of the UC Academic Senate Committee stated, "We owe it to our students to ensure that we're supporting them in a process that is fair. We want to ensure temporary flexibility, understanding that all requirements may not be met because of serious family or personal issues, or because a school decided to cancel certain courses or change the grading format."

What does "scoring well" mean? This is the score range for the middle 50% of students taking the tests:

  • SAT average total score is around 1060-1070, with Evidence-Based Reading and Writing around 530, Math around 530

  • ACT average 21 composite

  • PSAT 1150-1160 (UC may or may not allow submission of PSAT scores at this point, April 1, 2020)

Please understand that different colleges have different thresholds for testing scores. The more highly selective a school, like UCLA or Berkeley they like to see scores that are higher in the percentile rankings. Whereas less highly selective schools like UC Riverside or UC Merced have lower thresholds.

Because individual schools have different score ranges for their mid-50% of enrolled students it is important to understand that the test score corresponds to a percentile ranking. The percentile ranking tells you what percentage of students scored the same or better than you did. The median scores listed above mean that you scored higher than 50% of students with lower scores.

Before you panic about whether your existing SAT/ACT are "good enough" go to the websites of the colleges you are interested in and look at the Freshman profile for 2020. That will give you an idea about the mid-50% range of scores for enrolled students at that specific school.

For non-UC schools, check to see what their specific standardized testing policy for fall 2020.

Basically, if you have taken the test and done "well" go ahead and submit your scores in the UC and CSU applications. If you haven't taken the SAT or ACT yet, DON'T PANIC you do not have to submit it for UC application consideration in fall 2020.

Suspending letter grade requirements

The UC required courses, also known as the a-g requirements or prescribed college-preparatory courses previously required letter grades of a C or better in the specific courses. The minimum requirement of 15 year-long high school courses, but they always like to see more. Normally, California residents must earn at least a 3.0 gpa average across all of those classes to be eligible for admittance.

Because some schools might be going to pass/no pass, because some students have more challenges in access to or adaptation to online learning, the UC are no longer requiring letter grades for all students for courses completed in the winter/spring/summer of 2020. The CSU will also accept credit or pass grades in the a-g requirements, but all previous coursework must have been awarded a C- or better to satisfy the CSU requirements.

This also applies to admitted freshmen. Seniors, you still have to pass your classes, but do not worry if your school changes to pass/no pass.

Juniors and other high school students, finish strong, do the best you can to pass all of your classes. If your school does not award letter grades it will not directly affect your UC admissions chances.

No rescission of admission offers resulting from delayed official transcripts

Normally students have until July 1 for their high school to submit official transcripts. There have been a number of cases of students who were ultimately denied enrollment because their transcripts were not received by the UC by the deadline. The UC are officially relaxing this July 1 deadline

AP Tests

However, Eddie Comeaux, of the UC Academic Senate has said that he expects that the UCs will accept the results of the new shortened Advanced Placement tests.

This is a lot of information to digest. The UC, CSU, and all other colleges recognize that these are very difficult times for everyone. Some, including the UC and CSU are being very flexible and understanding. They do not want students to stress out and be anxious about at least some of the things they can't control.

What does this mean?

Students, do the best you can to finish out your school year as strong as you can.

Don't obsess about the SAT/ACT, and of course, remember to wash your hands!

If everyone is well, do give the people you live with a hug.

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