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University of California system drops SAT, ACT requirements for applicants

The system is developing a new test that "better aligns with the content the university expects incoming students to have mastered."

The University of California system will no longer require SAT and ACT standardized test results for in-state freshmen applicants.

Students walk on the campus of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles on March 11, 2020.Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images file

The system's Board of Regents voted Thursday to suspend the tests until fall 2024.

The system said in a statement that it would use the next three years to develop a new test that "better aligns with the content the university expects students to have mastered for college readiness."

If the new test doesn't meet "specified criteria" by 2025 admissions, the system will eliminate standardized tests entirely, the release said.

The university system said it still needs to develop a similar process for out-of-state and international students who aren't enrolled in California high school courses that are pre-approved by the system. That process will begin in 2025, the school said.

Under the new plan, in-state students will have the option to submit SAT and ACT scores for 2021 and 2022. Campuses can use them for admissions and other purposes, but applicants who skip the tests won't be penalized, the school said. The new policy also drops essay and writing tests.

For the two years after that, students can still take the tests, but scores can't be used for admissions.

In a statement, regents Chair John A. Pérez called the move an "incredible step in the right direction."

Critics of the tests have long argued they put minority and low-income students at a disadvantage because the test questions often contain inherent bias that more privileged children are better equipped to answer.

Wealthier students also tend to take expensive prep courses that help boost their scores, which many students can’t afford, opponents of the tests say.

The University of California system has 10 campuses, from Davis near Sacramento and Berkeley in Northern California to UCLA in Los Angeles and UC San Diego. One, UC San Francisco, is for graduate and professional education only.

The system includes more than 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff, according to its website.

Associated Press contributed.