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University of California Drops SAT Subject Test Requirement

Original post made by Elizabeth LaScala on Jan 10, 2011

Question: I enjoy your responses to readers' questions and look for your column on Tuesdays. I've just heard that there are changes in the SAT Subject Test requirements for University of California admission. I'm concerned about how this change may affect my son's chances to get into UC.

~San Ramon Resident

Dear San Ramon Resident: The University of California changed its admission requirements related to standardized testing. The UC used to require scores from the SAT or ACT as well as two SAT Subject Tests from different disciplines. The SAT Subject Tests are intensive one hour exams that test a student's proficiency in a specific content area, such as history or biology. The UC still requires students to take and send in their scores from the SAT or ACT, but it has eliminated the Subject Test requirement. This change starts with students applying for fall 2012 admission.

What this means for your son is that he is not required to take and submit scores from SAT Subject Tests in order to apply to the UC. However, he can still choose to submit Subject Test scores for consideration as part of his UC application. It is important to know that the UC may still recommend one or more Subject Tests for certain majors. For example, it may be recommended that students who want to major in engineering take a SAT Subject Test in math in order to demonstrate proficiency.

I believe that students prepare best for college admission to both the UC and many other selective universities nation-wide by taking 2 or even 3 SAT Subject Tests in different disciplines. Although many colleges have reduced or eliminated the Subject Test requirement, there are still selective schools that require or strongly recommend them. For example, Georgetown University still strongly recommends three Subject Tests and Harvard requires two.

The reason the UC system gives for eliminating the SAT Subject Test requirement is because studies indicate that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to take SAT Subject Tests. The UC decided not to hamper applications from these students. That does not change the fact that SAT Subject Test scores give colleges one other way to make their academic assessments of student applications. If a student attends a high school where he can complete relevant coursework and has the resources (e.g., time, money) to prepare for and take the Subject Tests, good scores generally will add value to his application to both the UC system and other selective colleges and universities.

For more detailed information on undergraduate admission requirements visit Web Link and check under freshman admission requirements.

Elizabeth LaScala, Ph.D. is an educational consultant and certified college admission advisor. Her goal is to help freshman applicants as well as transfer students and their families understand the admissions process, research college and career options, create a balanced college list and submit strong and cohesive applications. She is familiar with local high schools and has guided three daughters through the college admissions process in addition to more than 300 clients. Dr. LaScala is an active member of NACAC, WACAC, and HECA and earned a certification in College Admissions and Career Planning from University of California at Berkeley. Contact her at (925) 891-4491 or elizabeth@doingcollege.com.

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