Standardized testing requirements change for 2021 college applicants

PHOTO: Optional standardized test scores aren’t supposed to lower the bar for admissions but rather accommodate students because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo Illustration).

By Lauren Lee, Staff–

The University of California colleges recently decided that no schools would require standardized test scores and letter grade requirements of the spring 2020 semester would be suspended as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The decision, released late Tuesday, March 31, means that students can still submit their SAT or ACT standardized test scores if they have taken the test. However, if they choose not to, UC ensures that “no student is harmed in admissions selection should they not submit a test score.”

Both the SAT and ACT have canceled their tests nationwide until June. 

“If a student has taken it, I would advise still sending in the scores. Colleges may or may not use it, but it shouldn’t hurt them,” Davis High head counselor, Catherine Pereira said.

Regardless of this change, many juniors at DHS still plan to take the SAT. Junior Ishan Malik and Caelan Rairdan have already taken the SAT and ACT but plan to take the SAT again if possible. 

“I don’t think [the optional test score] is really going to change that much [for admissions]. I think [colleges] are going to look at GPA a little more when they are choosing who they’re accepting, but I still think they’re definitely going to take preference of people that have already taken the SAT and have high test scores,” Malik said.

Both Rairdan and Malik plan to apply to many of the UCs next year. 

“I think that a UC would be the best option,” Rairdan said.

Junior Meilla Blissett has not taken the SAT yet but plans to take it if possible, to figure out her strong and weak academic areas.

“I feel pretty relieved that the UCs and other schools are not requiring the test scores because I still have not taken it and lots of them I would’ve taken were canceled […] It also took the weight off of having to study extra during this stressful time,” Blissett said.

Blissett would likely send in her SAT score if she gets a chance to take it, but she is unsure how college admissions would take the standardized test into account. 

UCs require a 3.0 grade point average minimum for California resident applicants. This average is normally taken from the beginning of ninth grade until the end of eleventh grade, however, for prospective students applying for college for the fall of 2021, the spring 2020 semester letter grades won’t be included in this average. 

UC admissions also add that Pass or Credit grades can be used for A-G requirements if certain schools change their grading this spring. 

They don’t expect that these admission adjustments will last. This is only accommodation due to the unique and unexpected nature of the pandemic. In other words, this modification primarily applies to the class of 2021. 

“I hope it lessens the stress students feel. These are already difficult times, and not having to worry about grades and tests would be a good thing. Not really sure how it will affect admissions,” Pereira said. 

 Although the SAT and ACT aren’t mandatory, UC admissions emphasize that taking them “can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements.” 

For students admitted this spring, UC admissions also include that if the financial state of students has changed recently, financial aid for admitted students can be adjusted. 

The deadline for these accepted students is still May 1 but schools have been asked to be more flexible if a student requests an extension to submit their decision. 

Registration, deposit and transcript deadlines have also become more flexible for admitted students. 

CSU hasn’t made an official statement regarding admissions for 2021 on their website, but are likely to take similar action as the UCs.

Other private schools like Boston University, Case Western Reserve University, Tufts University, Oregon State University and the University of Oregon have made standardized test scores optional for the fall of 2021 admissions. The University of Oregon is even changing its admissions requirement for beyond 2021. 

Harvard College has made a few admissions adjustments as well. In a “Special Message for High School Juniors Applying to Harvard,” Harvard Admissions states that students won’t be at a disadvantage if they don’t submit subject test scores or AP test scores.

They also emphasize that taking standardized tests multiple times can have “diminishing returns” and the admission process is a whole person review therefore, standardized test scores are only a small component for admissions. Harvard will be requiring standardized test scores. 

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