The University of California has announced that it will no longer consider SAT and ACT scores as a part of admission and scholarship applications. The unprecedented move comes as a settlement of a student lawsuit. It is a big one for students aspiring to get into this prestigious institution with a 10-campus system and more than 280,000 students on its rolls statewide.

The university has decided that it will no longer fight the injunction that bars it from considering these scores even when students submit them voluntarily. Activists have been speaking against the standardised tests for a long time, arguing that they work against the minority and low-income students. They believe that test questions are inherently biased and easy to attempt for the privileged group.

Critics also point out that students from high-income backgrounds are positioned to boost their scores by taking expensive prep courses, making things all the more challenging for those who cannot afford them. The lawsuit that gave these arguments was filed in 2019 on behalf of high school students and nonprofit groups. A settlement was reached earlier this month, as the UC system agreed to discontinue the SAT and ACT as a part of admission.

In a vote last year, the UC Board of Regents chose to drop these tests as admission criteria through 2024. The tests also stand eliminated for California residents after that. Even as incoming students this fall did not provide SAT or ACT scores, regents stated that those applying for fall 2021 and 2022 could choose to submit them voluntarily. However, the new settlement brings good news for students, high schools, families, and counsellors.

The university will not count SAT and ACT scores for students submitting applications for admission between fall 2021 and spring 2025. The voluntarily submitted scores may be used for course placement after admission. According to FairTest, a nonprofit group based in Massachusetts, more than 1,400 accredited colleges and universities in the US will not require students applying for admission in fall 2022 to submit test scores.

It is certainly a favourable development for students struggling to get the minimum SAT and ACT scores, which keeps them from getting admission to the US universities of their choice. The optional system applies to out-of-state and international students applying in fall 2021.

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