CSU Drops SAT/ACT Testing Requirements

1,400 GCC transfer-hopefuls impacted

As part of ongoing efforts to address student equity, on March 22 the Trustees of California State University permanently dropped the SAT and ACT standardized tests as admissions requirements. Instead, the CSU admission advisory council will refine their eligibility index formula, recommending a minimum required GPA, the Los Angeles Times reported March 23.

GCC students looking to transfer to a California State University (CSU) no longer need to spend resources on SAT/ACT test preparation or performance. Factors likely to be considered for admission to CSU institutions are current coursework rigor, performance, GPA, and major-related extracurricular activities.  

“This decision aligns with the California State University’s continued efforts to level the playing field and provide greater access to a high-quality college degree for students from all backgrounds,” said Acting Chancellor Steve Relyea. “In essence, we are eliminating our reliance on a high-stress, high-stakes test that has shown negligible benefit and providing our applicants with greater opportunities to demonstrate their drive, talents and potential for college success.”

While some see the move to drop the SAT and ACT tests as admissions requirements as a positive step toward addressing equity concerns, others wonder whether it will solve any or even some of the equity gaps. “It is imperative that we address the equity gap in education. However, eliminating the SAT and ACT from the admissions process is an attempt to place a band-aid on a bigger problem of systemic inequality not only in education but in the larger society,” said GCC’s Assistant Chair of the Social Sciences Division, Chair of the Sociology Department, and Professor of Sociology, Richard T. Kamei, in an email. 

“In 1954, the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision provided the promise of integrated and equitable schools,” Kamei continued. “Unfortunately, sixty-eight years later, our nation still struggles to fulfill those promises. An enlightened society would ensure an environment both inside and outside the schools that would allow all students the opportunity to work towards achieving their academic potential.”

A 2019 study found that high school GPA was a stronger predictor than the SAT of first-year grades and second-year retention for Cal State students. Last year, Cal State replicated that research with a different cohort of students and found essentially the same results, the LA Times reported.

Kamei said he remains wary. “Universities and colleges will still need to experiment with effective ways of measuring student preparedness for the rigors of academic life, such as the multi-factored admission criteria that the CSUs will be implementing. My hope is that any policy related to admissions will be based on the findings from empirical research.”

SAT/ACT testing had been suspended for applicants to the Cal State system for the last two years in an effort to reduce applicant stress and address the lack of access to the tests during the pandemic.

According to the most recent data available from the CSU Data Center, in fall 2021, just over 1,400 GCC students applied for a transfer to Cal State colleges. CSUs admitted just over 1,250 students. Of those that were admitted, 829 enrolled.


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Ingrid Lohne can be reached at [email protected].