UC Application ACT & SAT Testing Requirements | Winward Academy


What Are The UC Application ACT & SAT Testing Requirements

Many families are understandably confused about how the UC schools have responded to shifts in standardized testing administration due to COVID-19. It almost feels sometimes like there is new information on a daily basis. Here we will hopefully bring some clarity to what you need to do or don’t need to do by breaking down how the UC schools have shifted their requirements for ACT and SAT standardized testing.  

Prior to 2020, the UCs only accepted applications with testing scores. In other words, if a student did not submit an ACT or SAT score on his or her application, then the application would be considered incomplete and would be immediately rejected. 

In July 2018, then UC President Janet Napolitano asked the UC Academic Senate to conduct a research-based effort to evaluate the value and use of standardized tests in admissions. Two years later, in May 2020, the results of that internal effort were announced with a 5-year plan impacting ACT and SAT test requirements. The following outlines the UC Regents’ decisions:

  • Test-optional for fall 2021 and fall 2022: Campuses will have the option to use ACT/SAT test scores in selection consideration if applicants choose to submit them, and will develop appropriate policies and procedures to implement the Board’s decision.
  • Test-blind for fall 2023 and fall 2024: Campuses will not consider test scores for California public and independent high school applicants in admissions selection, a practice known as “test-blind” admissions. Test scores could still be considered for other purposes such as course placement, certain scholarships, and eligibility for the statewide admissions guarantee.
  • New standardized test: Starting in summer 2020 and ending by January 2021, UC will undertake a process to identify or create a new test that aligns with the content UC expects students to have mastered to demonstrate college readiness for California freshmen.
  • Elimination of the ACT/SAT test requirement: By 2025, any use of the ACT/SAT would be eliminated for California students and a new UC-endorsed test to measure UC-readiness would be required. However, if by 2025 the new test is either unfeasible or not ready, consideration of the ACT/SAT for freshman admissions would still be eliminated for California students.
  • Elimination of writing test: The University will eliminate altogether the SAT Essay/ACT Writing Test as a requirement for UC undergraduate admissions, and these scores will not be used at all effective for fall 2021 admissions.

The confusion started when going into the test-optional Fall 2021 application season (i.e., students who were submitting their apps in November 2020), a lawsuit was filed against the UC schools demanding that they be test blind. These students were concerned that they weren’t able to receive proper accommodations for their learning disabilities when taking the ACT and SAT. The Fall 2021 application season was therefore ordered by a judge to be test blind instead of test optional. 

Based on this lawsuit, the UC policy is now as follows:

UC will not consider SAT or ACT test scores when making admissions decisions or awarding Regents and Chancellor’s scholarships. If students choose to submit test scores as part of their application, they may be used to determine eligibility for the California statewide admissions guarantee, as an alternative method of fulfilling minimum requirements for eligibility, or for course placement after they enroll.

  • If students choose to submit test scores when applying for 2021 or 2022 admission, they should take their admissions tests no later than December of the senior year.
  • Students can self-report ACT and/or SAT scores on the admission application.
  • If students self-report test scores, they should provide the official score report when they receive an offer of admission from UC.

Want to learn more about the recent SAT and ACT changes and shifts in college admissions? Check out our latest blog that covers all the recent testing updates. If you have any additional questions about how Winward Academy can support you or your teen during this challenging process, please reach out to us directly. Winward Academy can provide personalized advice on how to apply to colleges during the pandemic. 

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About Winward Academy – Winward Academy is one of the world’s leading innovators in the online education space, providing web-based academic support that enhances students’ knowledge, confidence, and competitiveness in middle and high school academics and in college applications. We help thousands of students every year by providing personalized, comprehensive ACT and SAT test preparation and extensive math curriculum support. The Winward Academy learning platform honors over 40 years of education and cognitive psychology research, incorporating proven techniques that promote effective learning.

Winward Academy’s unmatched reputation is wholly attributable to our students’ exceptional success and to the trust earned among students, parents, and schools around the world.

Jennifer Winward, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Winward is a renowned college instructor, a distinguished 20-year veteran of high school tutoring, and the founder and lead instructor of Winward Academy. She earned her Ph.D. specializing in adolescent brain development and adolescent learning. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction honors. Dr. Winward has been widely recognized for her academic success, published research, and philanthropic efforts with awards from the President of the United States, the California State Assembly, Rotary International, the Marin County School Administrator Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation.