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UC proposes changes to SAT subject tests’ weight

By Kimberly Young

Oct. 16, 2007 10:18 pm

Freshman applicants may no longer have to take the SAT subject tests.

The University of California Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools recently passed a proposal reforming freshman eligibility. This was the result of concerns that current application requirements were limiting otherwise qualified students from applying.

“The main reason we wrote this bill is that there are large numbers of high-achieving students actually ineligible for UCs,” said Mark Rashid, professor of civil engineering at UC Davis and chair of the board. He said one of the possible reasons students are ineligible is because they did not take the SAT subject tests or because they did not take one of the required courses even if it was not offered at their school.

Currently, eligibility relies on GPA, taking the required A-G courses, and test scores.

The board is a committee under the UC Academic Senate and oversees matters relating to undergraduate admission. The Academic Council has not voted on the proposal but instead has decided to send it for a systemwide senate review. Each committee may decide whether or not to opine by Dec. 5, according to their Web site.

The proposal also suggests a new policy for reviewing applications.

The proposed revision would be a more holistic approach, in which the policy would guarantee consideration for admission through a comprehensive review at each campus on the application to all students who met basic requirements, which would not include test scores. Test scores could be used in the review.

Rashid said that the board found that the SAT subject tests do not actually tell that much about a student’s potential.

“The fact is that statistical studies show that we don’t need (SAT subject tests). Those subject test scores tell us almost nothing beyond what we already know. They add almost nothing about a student’s ability to succeed. So here the requirement isn’t helping us; instead it is differentially burdensome on certain groups.”

He stated that students with educated parents usually do not have trouble meeting the requirements. Instead it is other groups, like first generation students who may not have as much help with the technicalities when applying, he said.

If the resolution passes, UC eligibility rate would go up 6 percent, according to the proposed document.

He said that some major departments, such as engineering, feel it is important to have certain SAT tests.

Students would still be able to take SAT subject tests and send their scores ““ it would just be optional, he said.

Some students may choose to take them, he said, especially for impacted majors.

“My hope is that we will get more applicants to choose from,” Rashid said.

Some students are happy with the resolution, because it would be two less tests to take.

“I think the SAT subject tests are a waste of time,” said Chi Truong, a senior at San Marcos High School. “We already study so hard for the SAT and applying to college.” Truong has not taken the SAT subject tests yet, but says she plans to because they are required for UC admissions.

Other students prefer SAT subject tests to the SATs because they give the student the option of which test they want to take.

“The SAT (subject tests) give schools a good idea of students’ specialties,” said Brittany Lee, a first-year biology student.

Some even prefer the subject tests over the regular SATs.

“I would rather they not use the SAT rather than the subject tests because you are allowed to choose subjects you are good at,” said Natalie Rossington, a senior at San Marcos High School.

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