SAT subject tests not a requirement for UC applicants

Changes to UC admissions requirements aiming to broaden the quantity of applications reviewed by the university will affect the way high school students prepare for applying to the university.

The admissions policy revisions, devised by the systemwide Academic Senate Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools, include removing the eligibility index and the requirement of SAT subject tests. The changes are in effect for Fall 2012 applicants.

The new admissions policies have eliminated the eligibility index — a mechanism to decide which students were eligible to have their application reviewed — and have replaced it with three requirements. Every student who has completed 11 of the 15 UC-required preparatory courses by the end of their junior year, has a 3.0 high school GPA and has taken the ACT or SAT with writing will receive a comprehensive review of their application and be considered for admission, according to UC admissions policy.

“The main thrust behind the change in admissions for freshmen is to make the university more open to potential students,” said George Johnson, vice chair of the board. “Changes to the index was a good way to do that without eliminating the guarantee of admissions.”

The new admissions policy will still include a guarantee of admissions for certain students. The changes have increased the number of students guaranteed admission based on their high school rank from 4 to 9 percent. However, the overall guarantee based on statewide ranking will decrease from 12.5 to 10 percent.

The addition of a writing section to the SAT reasoning test reduced the need for subject tests, said UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

The board decided that the subject tests requirement kept some students from achieving admission, Johnson said.

Additionally, the subject tests do not show how well a student will perform at a UC campus and only serve as an “unnecessary barrier for many potential students,” Vasquez said.

However, students may still submit subject tests, and many majors still recommend the submission of subject tests, which may create a concern as to whether it causes a disadvantage for students who do not take the subject tests, Johnson said.

“It’s not a negative if you don’t take  (subject tests), but just it’s another factor that we take into consideration in the admissions process,” Vasquez said.

Johnson said the board will be looking into the results of the new admissions policy to determine whether the lack of requiring subject tests serves as a disadvantage to some students.

The admissions changes were devised by the board following extensive research of the effectiveness of the previous admissions requirements, Johnson said.

The board chose to remove the subject tests from admissions requirements because they found that the requirement limited the opportunity of some students to be considered for admission because they “weren’t taking (the subject tests) because they were unaware that it was a requirement,”  Vasquez said.

The changes will increase the amount of applications that receive review but do not increase the amount of students who receive admission.

The new policies invite students who have a 3.0 GPA and who have taken the SAT regardless of the score received to apply. However, Johnson said if students have a 3.0 GPA but a low SAT score, “they don’t have very high chances (of admission).”