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Should UC System Drop the SAT?

March 03, 2001|MARY REESE BOYKIN

UC President Richard C. Atkinson has proposed eliminating the SAT as a criterion for admission to the eight-campus UC system. Atkinson says that the test is unfair to many students and fails to measure how much they learned in high school. The proposal needs the approval of both the UC faculty's academic council and the UC Board of Regents. Students shared their view with MARY REESE BOYKIN.


JOSHUA WILLIAMS 19, freshman, UC Berkeley

Eliminating students' SAT scores as a criterion for UC admission is a move in the right direction. I question whether the test measures academic achievement or mere test-taking skills. Granted, the SAT has some value, but it weighs too heavily in admissions. Under pressure, many students do not perform well, but placed in a different learning environment, they do well. The SAT is culturally and financially biased.

The test was first administered in 1926. This is a good time to look at students holistically, consider what they have overcome, what they have accomplished. After all, these are truer reflectors of the student than an SAT score.The UC system move toward elimination of the SAT may set a precedent for major public universities nationwide.



For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday March 10, 2001 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 9 Voices Desk 1 inches; 14 words Type of Material: Correction
Photo--A March 3 Youth Platform on eliminating the SATs misidentified Joshua Williams' photo.

19, sophomore, UCLA

The SAT was one of the most anticipated and stressful parts of applying to college. One of the reasons that the UC system has its prestige is that it tends to select students who have higher SAT scores. Omitting the SAT may lower the competition for admission.

I scored 1,210, but had the test not been required, I would have concentrated more on getting getting higher grades.

Without the SAT, it will be harder for admissions officers to discern where grades may be inflated. Then, too, the SAT gives students an incentive to learn on their own. When I first took the test, my scores ranged from 900 to 1,000. Had a higher score not been required for UC admissions, I would not have bothered to put in the extra time to study. Without the SAT, many lower-achieving students will try to improve their grade point average since they have a chance now for admission.

I think that rather than eliminate the SAT, the best thing is to even out the educational system so that there are effective teachers in all classes at every school.



17, senior, Inglewood High School

During the November filing period, I received a letter from the UC president notifying me that there is room available for me at a UC and encouraging me to apply. I applied during that period. Since the ninth grade, I have planned to attend UCLA. I've always envisioned myself being there. I know that I will be accepted at a UC campus because I am in the top 4% of my graduating class. I feel anxious for the day of notification to come so I'll know which campus.

My SAT scores--although satisfactory--were not what I hoped them to be. Maybe the SAT does not cover everything that I have mastered.

At school, I am a college peer counselor. I know that a person can be judgmental--as I have been when a student with a 4.0 grade point average has SAT scores in the 700s. It doesn't track. I have friends from other South Bay schools whose parents paid hundreds of dollars for SAT workshops. Though my dad works 12-hours a day, six days a week, paying for a workshop would have been a big hardship.

On the verbal section of the test, students who speak English as a second language may be at a greater disadvantage. I didn't learn to speak English until third grade. I speak Spanish at home and with my friends. I don't have the same level of English that native speakers do.



19, freshman, UC Riverside

SAT scores should be eliminated as part of the admission criteria. The tests are biased. Many minorities feel out of place when we take the test because it is centered on experiences more common to whites. Students in inner-city schools are not getting the same level of instruction as students in suburban schools. Consequently, inner-city students lag behind.

Once inner-city students get to the UCs we have to catch up. I know I did. We have to work harder than other students.

I feel that a student should not be judged by the SAT. College admission should be based on a student's grades, extracurricular activities, and community involvement. Because a student has been trained in test-taking skills, it does not mean that that student is academically superior to other students.

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