Seniors: Is the UCs Going Test Blind a Good Thing?


Art/Photo by Shrutika Ezhil

After years of being told the importance of the SAT/ACTs, prepping for the test, and worrying about their scores, the seniors are being asked to toss it all away.

Shrutika Ezhil, Staff Writer

   Thursday, May 21, 2020. The University of California Board of Regents passed the proposal to eliminate the SAT and ACT requirement on their application, making it a test-optional admission. Four months later, on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, California Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman issued a ruling forbidding UCs from considering high school students’ SAT and ACT scores entirely for admissions or scholarships. This changed everything.

   For seniors, this means that they can’t include their SAT/ACT scores on their applications. But it goes beyond that. Mrs. Garcia, one of WHS’ counselors, expressed, “Because [the UCs] are going test blind, the essay is more crucial than ever. The UCs have always used the holistic approach…this year more than ever, it is important for [seniors] to fine-tune their essay and make sure that they are answering their questions and thinking of everything that they have done from 9-12th grade for leadership, even if it’s something as simple as babysitting a sibling.” So, this puts more pressure on other aspects of a senior’s application. 

   It also seems like this decision was long coming. Ansh Kumar (12), who took the SAT, believes that “standardized testing—more specifically ACT and SAT—are one of the biggest cons when it does come to student life. There are multiple ways for people to teach, it doesn’t actually measure a student’s knowledge or abilities, etc.” On the other hand, Mrs. Garcia says that the only reason professors had wanted the SAT/ACT was because “the SAT was that one test that was the same for every student, but then it wasn’t the same for every student because of the test prep.” 

   Test prep was something that seniors like Chaturika Bandara remarked to have “spent so much money for” and unfortunately, “won’t be able to help [her] application with a (hopefully) high sat score.” Mrs. Garcia reminds us, however, that “those students who don’t have access to those test-prep companies have always been at a disadvantage…SAT and ACT are a business; their job has been to recruit students to take the test so they can get money.

   Additional concerns and anxiety may be running high amongst students now that the essays and other aspects of the application are now given more emphasis. For Emma Isella (12), “it’s a bit worrying because there’s now so little for college admissions people to go off of…I don’t think it’s fair to put so much weight into essays. Especially as someone applying into STEM, I don’t exactly see why I need to write 4 essays about something not even directly related to what I want to do in college.” She may mirror the concerns of many other seniors. Kumar, however, proposes a new perspective: “This puts more emphasis on knowing the student.” The UCs are now more invested in getting to understand the student better, learning about the person they are becoming and want to become.

   In the end, the decision for the UCs to go test blind was coming, and, as Mrs. Garcia points out, “COVID tipped it.” Regardless of the debate behind the fairness of the SAT/ACTs to begin with and the potential disadvantages & advantages the UCs’ decision may have caused, we can all clearly see how COVID-19 has impacted the lives of many students. Ian Lee (12) looks at things in an amusing way: “Personally, I don’t get why colleges don’t just magically get rid of coronavirus for the application; seems pretty rude of the virus to go on and force adaptability into students nearing important moments in their lives.” The fact that the seniors had to adapt to these changes and high school students are worrying more about their futures than themselves, highlights the impact that COVID-19 has left on us. But this adaptability, as Lee puts it, may serve for a greater purpose. Mrs. Garcia gave us some great advice, “If anything [the UCs going test blind] is going to force students to no longer focus on a test and focus more about themselves and hopefully get involved in extracurricular activities that they are truly interested in and passionate about…hopefully building their own character not just for an application but just for their own personal growth and wellbeing. Hopefully, there’s some good that comes out of it.”