Are the UC's test-blind?
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Are the UC's test-blind?

Admission Counselling :
  • Written by UnivAdmitHelp
  • Category: Admission Application
  • Published on 13 Oct 2020


Are the UC’s completely test-blind? Have some of them gone test-blind? Are they test-optional? Should I sit for the SATs or not? Should I submit my scores or not?

UPDATED DEC/2020: The UC's are now test blind

SAT Essay and ACT Writing

UC will no longer collect SAT Essay or ACT Writing test scores even if you choose to submit general test scores as part of your admissions application.

Good to know

SAT Subject Tests aren't required, but they're recommended for certain selective majors. 




The uncertainty regarding admission guidelines has reached an all-time high. It began with the College Admission Scandal. And this year, along with the limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, other issues got factored in as well. 

  • THURSDAY May 1, 2020: The University of California Board of Regents (the governing and policy-making body for the entire UC system) unanimously passed UC President Janet Napolitano's proposal to eliminate the SAT and ACT as a requirement on the UC application. Under President Napolitano's plan, UC was to 
    • adopt a test-optional admissions policy for the graduating high school classes of 2021 and 2022, 
    • then go test-blind for the classes of 2023 and 2024.  
  • TUESDAY, September 1, 2020: Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman ruled that UC's test-optional policy unfairly disadvantaged disabled applicants because they lacked access to testing centers with accommodations during the Covid-19 pandemic. The effect of the ruling impacts all applicants to UC. However, the ruling is a preliminary injunction - it is not the final word. 
    • The ruling bars the use of SAT/ACT scores in the UC admissions process. That is, if you report an SAT/ACT score on your UC application, it cannot be used as a data point when deciding your admissibility. 
    • The injunction also bars UC from using SAT/ACT scores for scholarship considerations. 
  • BUT, the ruling is most likely NOT the final word.
  • The case will be further litigated at the case management conference (the next phase of this civil trial) on September 29, 2020, and then at the full trial, if it goes that far.

If the ruling is upheld, the UCs will be test blind for students applying to enroll in the fall of 2021 (current high school seniors, for example). This means that test scores will not be used in any way in the admission process. There will be enhanced emphasis on the high school classes, grades, and rigor of a student’s curriculum, as well as their essays and activities. As of now, the legal case is not finalized and the UCs have not made a public announcement about their plans. Watch this space as we monitor all new developments in this case. At a minimum, all UCs are test optional (scores are not required, but strong scores can help) for applicants to fall of 2021.

Overall guidelines: According to University of California Board of Regents:

  • UC will be "test-optional" for fall 2021 and fall 2022. Freshman applicants are not required to submit SAT/ACT test scores. 
  • Admission to the UC will be "test-blind" for applicants in Fall 2023 & 2024 enrollment.

Three UC campuses—Berkeley, Irvine, and Santa  Cruz - had already announced that they were going test-blind at the beginning of the year (now including Santa Barbara too). Other UC campuses—including LA, Riverside, and San Diego—had decided to adopt the test-optional admissions policy. 

UC BERKELEY: “Starting this application cycle with freshman students applying for Fall 2021 admissions, UC Berkeley will not use SAT/ACT test scores in any part of our application process. This is a Berkeley policy in response to the University of California system wide suspension of the standardized testing.”

UC IRVINE: UCI will not be using SAT/ACT for comprehensive review, selection, and scholarships. However, SAT/ACT and SAT Subject Exams can be used for class placement or towards graduation requirements.

UC SANTA BARBARA: UCSB will not use SAT/ACT scores in our selection process for fall 2021 applicants. All applicants to UC have the option to submit scores on the application. If you elect to do so, these scores will not be visible to Admission Counselors reviewing your application to UCSB.

UC SANTA CRUZ: UC Santa Cruz will no longer use standardized exam scores (ACT/SAT) in our holistic review and selection process. Exam scores may still be used to meet area b of the a-g subject requirements as well as the UC Entry Level Writing requirement.  


The UC application has ONE section where it asks for scores. Following this, there’s a spot for SAT essay / subject etc. You can choose which schools you want to send your scores to. (This is a paid service as well.)

As a final thought, it seems that much of the college environment is trying to move away from standardised tests and scores. And yet, they will need to set a method for assessing applications, not to mention even greater emphasis on the profile of the applicant and his extra/co-curricular development. 


Until such a system is set up, it is safer for an international applicant to have SAT and/or ACT scores.