UC SAT Announcement

You’ve likely have already heard that the UC System is suspending the SAT/ACT requirement for admissions. Basically, they’ve made standardized tests optional for fall of 2021 admissions. While you can still take an SAT or an ACT for use in your UC application, you needn’t do so.

Intermediate Term

While the UC system has waived the requirement for standardized testing through 2022, they will still accept SAT or ACT scores as part of their application for undergraduate admissions. For 2023 and 2024, test scores can be submitted, but will only be used for course placement, certain scholarships and statewide admissions guarantee eligibility.

Longer Term

Janet Napolitano, the UC President, stated that they are currently developing a replacement test. The UC System is, “developing a new test that more closely aligns with what we expect incoming students to know to demonstrate their preparedness for UC,” Napolitano said. She went further and revealed that if there isn’t a test that meets their requirements by 2025, standardized tests will no longer be a part of the undergraduate admissions process for the UC campuses for California students. Out-of-state students might still need to submit test scores past that date.

What You Should Do

If you’re applying or considering applying to a UC campus for undergraduate admissions, please consider your options.

Case 1: You have a stellar GPA and you have your extracurricular activities in addition to your coursework. Altogether, you’re considered a competitive candidate for admission. If this is you, you’re likely going to want to skip the SAT.

Case 2: Your GPA is not as high as you’d like, yet you’re close to competitive in terms of GPA, difficulty of classes, and extracurricular activities. If this describes your situation, you’ll likely want to take the SAT (or ACT) to help your chances of admission.

Case 3: Your GPA is not as competitive as you believe for admission to the UC of your choice. Yet, you still want to finish with a UC diploma. Perhaps you were a late bloomer academically or struggled your first two years of high school. In this case, please consider attending a Junior College (JC) first. Local schools such as Coastline Community College (within the same district as Orange Coast College and GoldenWest College) have had online classes for over a decade. You could likely do well there and then transfer to a UC.

Benefit of California Junior Colleges

Most people don’t know that the UC admissions gives priority to JC graduates over high school graduates. This means you can attend a JC and still gain admission to a UC school. There are guaranteed spots for such students.

Please read the fine print on this as many students have told me they’re guaranteed UC admissions with a 3.2 GPA. While that may be true, it’s likely that the more competitive UC schools will want a GPA closer to 4.0 (no GPA higher than a 4.0 at a JC, just so you know).

The good news is that you have a clean slate once you graduate high school and start at a JC. UC schools only want to know your JC GPA along with your activities post-high school. That’s a relief. It’s like starting over or pressing a refresh button.

Be warned, though. Your permanent record begins once you startyour first semester at a JC, so take it seriously. Set yourself up for academic success and you can still finish with a UC diploma. Many of my students have done this.

In upcoming posts I will discuss the details of Junior Colleges and explain how to make the most of your JC experience.


By Martin

Martin McSweeney is a National Merit Finalist, Pomona College Graduate, and member of MENSA. He has worked at the Center for Talented Youth (Loyola Marymount University campus); Upward Bound (Harvey Mudd campus); various test prep companies; and Whittier High School. Now, Martin helps students of all abilities improve their relationship with math.