Op/Ed: Test-Free Admissions: Why Wait? 

Inside Higher Education Logo

Julie J. Park, associate professor of student affairs, spotlights the University of California’s  move to “test-free” admissions as an example for institutions following the Supreme Court decision to end race-based admissions policies.

The University of California recently announced that it admitted the largest number of underrepresented racially minoritized (URM) students ever for fall 2023, despite not being able to consider race as a factor in admissions since California banned affirmative action in 1996.

The UC’s good news is good news for the rest of the country, which is scrambling in the wake of the Supreme Court decision rejecting race-conscious admissions in the cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions. Many campuses are looking to learn from the UC, which has had to conduct admissions without knowing an applicant’s race/ethnicity for almost three decades now. They should pay close attention to how test-free admissions has become a key part of the UC strategy.

More than 1,800 colleges do not require the SAT or ACT, and this fall marks the fourth cycle where test optional is the norm. Things have not fallen apart. If anything, elite institutions have fallen into a comfortable rhythm with test-optional policies. Their test score averages are going up; admit rates are lower than ever. Classes are still full of incredibly bright and talented students. Test-optional policies are associated with modest increases in racial/ethnic and economic diversity. What’s not to like?

The fact that test optional has been going strong for several years at almost 2,000 colleges shows that applications can be evaluated effectively without test scores. But why stop there, given the current crisis facing higher education?

While test-optional policies are already the norm, the University of California’s experience points toward test-free admissions as the next best step.

Read the rest in Inside Higher Education.