Students React to CSU’s Support for Permanent Removal of SAT, ACT in Admissions

Students React to CSU’s Support for Permanent Removal of SAT, ACT in Admissions
California State University–Fullerton on Aug. 28, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

LOS ANGELES—After California State University (CSU) Trustees expressed their strong support earlier this week for permanently dropping the use of standardized tests for admission, high school seniors applauded, whereas current CSU students expressed concerns about the proposal.

On Jan. 26, the CSU’s Admission Advisory Council made the recommendation to remove the SAT and ACT requirements for good for undergraduate applicants, after considering admissions data and national research and seeing the impact of testing on equity and access in higher education, according to Sylvia Alva, CSU executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.

Siding with the trustee board, high school students preparing for college applications expressed their support for the proposal.

“That’s actually very helpful to me,” Deanellie Ponce, a senior at South High School in Torrance, told The Epoch Times. “I was stressing out about it. I was scared that [the tests] would set me back, and colleges would look at [test scores] and not consider my grades in high school. I was scared I would do terribly in the SAT and ACT.”

Maedeline Salazar, a senior at South High School, said standardized tests may be a “disadvantage” to some people who aren’t good test-takers.

“I think tests like the SAT are becoming more obsolete in this age. Intelligence cannot be recorded through how well you can take a singular test,” Salazar said.

Another senior at South High School, Gen Yamamoto, said he didn’t take the SAT, but he believed the change would benefit many students with financial hardships.

“There are some students who can’t take SAT and ACT because of their family circumstances. There are a lot of students who have to pay the college tuition themselves, so they don’t have time to study for the [tests].”

Yanqing Chen, a senior from San Gabriel High School who didn’t plan to take any standardized tests, told The Epoch Times she believed the change is “good for students” because "for people who are not performing very well [on the tests], [removing the requirements] give them the opportunity to go to a good college.”

Yishuo Wu, a senior at San Gabriel High School, said he didn’t take any standardized tests because it takes too long to study for them, and he wants to spend the time exploring new things.

“Students can work hard and concentrate on their school stuff, like getting higher GPA. I agree with this change,” Wu said.

However, some current CSU students are concerned that the change might lead to a less effective way of evaluating the qualifications of incoming students.

Luke Huang, a first-year graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona, said he thinks it’s better to retain the standardized testing requirement because there’s more than one way to get admitted to CSU campuses.

“The standardized test is a pretty fair way to examine all the students. Also, you can take [the tests] multiple times. If you still don’t get into any school, just go to a community college and transfer.”

Agreeing with Huang, Wanting Zhong, a senior studying liberal studies at CSU Long Beach, said that more admission criteria can help universities better identify students who are a good fit.

“I think the standardized tests make it a lot easier for schools to understand one’s strengths. [The tests] also make the admission process more competitive.”

Jennifer Zhang, a college senior who entered CSU Fullerton as a freshman applicant, also said the test scores as an indicator can make the selection process more efficient in identifying the qualified since the admission quotas are always limited each year.

“A standardized test is a tool that allows students who are ready and eligible for college education to stand out. If [the SAT and ACT tests are] removed, there should be an alternative test for a standardized evaluation.”

At the Jan. 26 meeting, Trustee Yammilette Rodriguez shared in support of the proposal her personal experience back in high school when she had a 4.0 GPA but ended up going to a community college because she missed the deadline to take the standardized tests.

“How wonderful would it have been for me to be able to go directly,” Rodriguez said.

To address potential concerns, Trustee Jack Clarke also asked the council to clarify what to say to community members when they argue that “we’re watering down the admission requirements, particularly in the areas of the hard sciences and mathematics.”

Alva, executive vice chancellor, responded that “taking a rigorous pattern of courseworks, what we refer to as A–G [high school coursework required for admission into University of California and CSU campuses], and doing well in those courses is the best predictor of preparing for and doing well in college.”

“It is really about looking at the strongest predicators and rounding out our definitions ... of talent and motivation and context to ensure that we stay closely aligned with our core values in the CSU for access, opportunity, and inclusive excellence,” she said.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CSU has suspended the standardized testing requirements for admission and transitioned to the “multi-factor admissions” strategy, which the advisory council believed could offer a more effective assessment of student eligibility.

Alva said the recommendation can “provide our campuses with a more comprehensive view of applicants from all backgrounds and zip codes” by considering “multi-layered factors that truly demonstrate their skills, determination, and potential for college success.”

SAT’s recent transition from hard copy booklets to an online testing system will not have an impact on this recommendation, Alva said.

The proposal will be voted on by the Board of Trustees in March. If approved, CSU campuses will be joining the University of California, which put an end to the testing requirements last year.