Feb 5, 2011

The University of California Drops SAT Subject Test Requirement

Students applying for fall 2012 admission to colleges in the University of California system will no longer be required to submit SAT Subject Test scores. For local students who find themselves “California Dreamin’,” this could be welcome news and should lessen the pressure to schedule additional standardized testing during the coming months.

The new eligibility requirements are based on recommendations made by UC’s Academic Senate and are designed to bring UC’s testing requirements more in line with other public universities. Until now, UC was the only public higher education system in the nation to require students to take two subject examinations.

Locally, Virginia’s flagship university in Charlottesville currently “strongly” recommends two subject tests, while the University of Maryland requires none for admission.

The elimination of the subject test requirement stems from in-house faculty research suggesting that SAT Subject Tests “contribute very little to UC’s ability to select freshmen who will do well at UC, once their GPA and SAT or CT scores are considered.” In fact, research suggests that the overall value of subject tests has “declined markedly” with the addition of the writing test to the main SAT and ACT exams.

Studies have also shown that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to take SAT Subject Tests. Rather than maintain a barrier to admissions for this group of students, the UC system elected to eliminate or loosen the requirement.

Still, some UC campuses will continue to “recommend” SAT Subject Tests for certain schools or majors. And in the world of college admissions, you can usually translate “recommend” into "require. "

For example, UC Berkeley’s College of Chemistry and College of Engineering will consider SAT Subject Tests in a science and Math Level 2 a “plus.” UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science also recommends the submission of Math Level 2 and a science scores. And UC Santa Barbara’s College of Letters and Science states that subject test scores will be considered as “value-added achievements during the application evaluation.”

And note that under the new policy, students could still choose to submit subject test scores for consideration as part of their application, just as they now do with Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores.

For more information on this and other changes in UC admissions (many of which pertain only to California residents), visit the UC website check under freshman admission requirements.

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