Matt's Past SAT/ACT News Update

Matt O'Connor

Nov 10, 2021

As reported by Forbes, the University of California faculty has recommended against developing and implementing a college entrance exam to replace the SAT/ACT:


A University of California (UC) faculty committee has recommended against using an alternative standardized test to replace the SAT for evaluating undergraduate applicants to the university. The much-anticipated news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Last year, former UC President Janet Napolitano recommended that the university’s Board of Regents stop requiring the ACT/SAT for undergraduate admission decisions. At the time, her proposal represented one of the most important actions in the ongoing movement by universities to go to test-optional admissions, a trend that’s been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as growing concerns about the tests’ fairness and validity.

Specifically, Napolitano proposed suspending the university’s standardized test (ACT/SAT) requirement for undergraduate admissions until 2024, thereby giving the university time to modify or create a new test.

The Board subsequently voted unanimously to suspend the standardized test requirement for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024 with the understanding that if a new test could not be found or developed that met its criteria in time for fall 2025 admission, UC would eliminate the standardized testing requirement for California students.

In May, 2021, UC signed a settlement ending a 2019 lawsuit in which the plaintiffs, a coalition of students and various advocacy groups, alleged that the tests illegally discriminated against applicants based on race, wealth and disability and denied them equal protection under California’s constitution. UC agreed to discontinue its use of the ACT and SAT in that settlement.

The NCAA has recommended that colleges drop the requirement for high school athletes to submit SAT/ACT scores.


An NCAA task force has recommended that standardized test scores no longer be required of high school applicants intending to play a Division I or Division II sport in college, the NCAA announced Friday.

The NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force, created in part to "address racial justice and equity," made the recommendation after nearly six months of research and consultation with various organizations, including the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the College Board and ACT testing agencies.

"We are observing a national trend in NCAA member schools moving away from requiring standardized test scores for admissions purposes and this recommendation for athletic eligibility aligns directly with that movement," Morgan State University president David Wilson, who led the task force, said in a statement.

Despite recent events and the widespread adoption of test optional policies, New Mexico will move forward with its plans to give the SAT to all high school juniors next year:


New Mexico students will take the SAT in spring 2022 as the state phases in a pandemic-delayed testing requirement aimed at increasing participation that varies widely by racial and ethnic groups.

Those disparities were stark this spring as high school students were offered the test but didn’t have to take it. There were deep differences in high school juniors’ participation according to racial and ethnic groups, with particularly low tallies among Indigenous students, data released by New Mexico’s Department of Public Education show.

The state had planned to require high school juniors to take the English and math exams this spring, replacing previous statewide assessments. Around a dozen states, including Ohio and New Jersey, require students to take the SAT or list it as one of the options to fulfill federal requirements for standardized testing.

But the pandemic made it harder for students nationwide to take the SAT. Logistical complications from the virus spurred New Mexico to get a waiver from federal testing requirements.

Twenty-five percent of eligible high school juniors took the test this spring in New Mexico, according to data released by the PED last week. The rate was far lower for Indigenous students, with only 11% of high school juniors in that group taking the test.

An increasing number of universities no longer require the SAT for admission, but state officials and local guidance counselors still encourage students to take it.

“If SAT weren’t the state-designated assessment for high school, some students might never realize their potential for college placement. It also allows students access to scholarship opportunities who otherwise might not be able to afford tuition,” said Lynn Vasquez, learning management system director at the PED.

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, college enrollments have continued to drop over the past two years.


The post-pandemic enrollment rebound everyone wished for has not come to pass.

College and university enrollments are still on the decline for most institutions, early data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show. Undergraduate enrollment across the board fell by 3.2 percent this fall, echoing last fall’s 3.4 percent decline. Since fall 2019, undergraduate enrollments have dropped by 6.5 percent.

The top-line findings paint a bleak picture for higher education’s recovery.

We’ve really not seen declines across the board like this,” said Doug Shapiro, vice president of research and executive director of the research center.

Students still have not returned to college at the rate they left, and it will likely take years of work to bring them back into the fold, Shapiro fears.

“A lot of those freshmen who didn’t show up last year -- they haven’t come back yet,” Shapiro said. “The longer students are away from school, the harder and harder it becomes for them to come back. It may well be that a majority of them might not ever make it back, and that’s very much a concern.”

A closer look at the data shows a more varied picture. Wealthy and prestigious institutions -- public and private -- have nearly recovered whatever enrollments they lost last fall. Graduate enrollments continue to climb. Declines at public two-year institutions -- which have borne the brunt of pandemic-era enrollment losses -- are starting to ease up.

The recent de-emphasis on test scores has led to a drop in overall student stress, according to an article focused on McLean High School in Virginia:


“Colleges promise that when they say that test scores are optional, they really mean it,” college and career specialist Laura Venos said. “McLean students, just like all other students, should see the test-optional policy as a gift; it should lower stress.”

Venos recommends students submit test scores only if they fall in or above the average range when looking at the data reported by their individual colleges. While students who received a high score do have the advantage of including it on their application, a low score won’t hurt a student’s prospects of being admitted.

“If a student decides to apply without test scores, the college admissions team will review all of the other parts of the application to determine if that student will be a good fit,” Venos said.

Many seniors like the new policy, particularly because it decreases requirements needed to apply to college.

“I feel that the test optional policy for the SAT has made the application process a lot less stressful,” senior Chris Billings said. “You don’t have to worry about getting a bad score as much anymore so there is a lot less pressure.”

McLean held SAT day on Wednesday, October 13th, where seniors had the chance to take the test. The school also held PSAT day for sophomores and juniors. As sophomores experienced what the four-hour long test was like for the first time, many just saw it as something to get over with.

“I’m not that concerned about my PSAT score, because I hope by the time I graduate the SAT won’t matter that much,” sophomore Caitlyn Lee said.

“[The SAT is] something that we should still be studying for, but it’s less of a burden this year than previous year because of the test-optional policy,” Lee said.

The College Board released its annual SAT testing report, and, as expected, all the test cancellations and school closures led to a dramatic drop in the number of students from the class of 2021 taking the SAT. Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed offers the details:


About 1.5 million students in the high school Class of 2021 took the SAT at least once -- down 700,000 from the Class of 2020.

"Many students attempted to take the SAT but were unfortunately unable to due to widespread COVID-related disruptions, with more than 1 million test registrations cancelled as schools and test centers had to close or reduce capacity," said a report from the College Board.

In response to the pandemic, the College Board paused testing in March, May and June of 2020, affecting the ability of members of the Class of 2021 to test.

"This fall, test center capacity is increasing as demand from students remains high amid continued impacts of the pandemic, and nearly 1.4 million students from the class of 2022 have already taken the SAT at least once, with three weekend test dates remaining in 2021," the report said.

The College Board said that "despite the decline in participation due to school and test center closures, proportional representation across student subgroups was roughly similar to previous classes." The board attributed this to the School Day program, in which students take the SAT in school, on a school day.

In the Class of 2021, 950,000 students took the SAT on a school day, slightly down from 1.1 million in the Class of 2020 (a 14 percent drop). Overall, 62 percent of the Class of 2021 took the SAT on a school day, compared to 49 percent of the Class of 2020 and 43 percent of the Class of 2019.