The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

Grabbing Life by the Horns

Do You Need to Take the SAT and ACT to go to College in California?


As college season draws near for Granada’s senior class and looms over GHS’s juniors, the place of the SAT and ACT exam scores on college applications are called into question. When schools went online for the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools decided to drop the SAT and ACT score requirements for a temporary amount of time. However, some colleges and universities, especially in California, have kept this policy into this year’s admissions. You may be tempted to take a standardized test to buff up your college application and increase your chances of being admitted, but there’s a good chance doing this will be completely useless.

“I’m taking the ACT just to do well on out of state universities but, the colleges I like here won’t even look at my score,” said GHS senior Taylin Upshaw.

There are three categories a college could fall into with regards to exam score requirements, required, test optional and test blind. The first category, required, means that taking the SAT/ACT is a requirement the college has to be admitted and it must be listed on your college application. The second category, test optional, means that neither test is required to be admitted but, the college will not stop you from listing it on your application and having a good score will be considered in admitting you. The third category, test blind, means that the college does not require either test, and will not consider their scores in admitting you or giving scholarships. Listing an SAT/ACT score on an application to a test blind school is a waste of space on your college application, if the school decides to leave a space to do so at all. The most you could get out of applying with either exam score is fulfilling the minimum required credits to be admitted, only for those who didn’t reach them in high school.

What California colleges require SAT/ACT test scores to be admitted? Currently, there are no colleges in California that flat out require these test scores to be admitted, many opting to be test optional.

Story continues below advertisement

“My parents made me think the SAT was required to be accepted into every college in the world, but I found out that’s just not the case,” commented senior Isabelle Hart.

The amount of schools that have test required policies in the country is now significantly less than ever before.

What California colleges are test optional?

Many California colleges have opted to be test optional, including the famous Stanford University. Students applying to prestigious liberal arts schools Harvey Mudd College, Claremont Mckenna College, Pomona College, or Scripps College are also given the option to not report test scores. Additionally, droves of popular private universities like University of Southern California and Santa Clara University have gone test optional.

Should you include test scores when applying to a test optional school?

Only in some cases, remember, you will not be penalized for not including exam scores. If you took the SAT/ACT and got a bad score, or a score that you feel isn’t up to par with the rest of your application, go ahead and leave it off. If you have a good exam score on the application, the schools will like that, these schools treat a good score like having an AP class or volunteer hours. If you plan on going to a school that’s test optional, it’s best to take your chances taking the SAT, ACT or both for the possibility of listing a good score on the application. If you don’t want to take a standardized test, or have a subpar score on one, California is full of great universities that won’t put you up against applications with good exam scores, test blind schools.

What California colleges are test blind?

Many universities have opted to go test blind. Notably, every school in the University of California (UC) system is now test blind, including the prestigious UC Berkeley.

“I wanna go to UCSC but even if I land at a different UC I’ll be fine, I don’t want to take a standardized test” said Julia Cuison.

Every school in the California State University (CSU) system is also test blind, including all locations of the well regarded California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). California Institute of Technology (CalTech) is under the effect of a five year moratorium on standardized test scores implemented in 2020. This means CalTech is completely test blind through fall 2025, and will not be taking test scores into consideration whatsoever this upcoming application cycle. Pitzer College, a prestigious liberal arts school, will also remain test blind through 2025.

Thinking about applying to one of these schools?

Remember that there is no advantage to applying with test scores on your application, CalTech undergraduate admissions page reads “Caltech does not consider SAT or ACT testing. Period. Exclamation mark. Don’t send it. We won’t see it.”

Some colleges like CalTech even use suppression software so they cannot see your test scores if you include them. Focus on your personal essay, gpa, extracurriculars, volunteer hours and letters of recommendation (University of California does not require or read letters of recommendation but may ask for them as supplemental review at a later time).

Thinking about going to a college outside of California or a California school not mentioned here?

Now that you know the three categories of SAT/ACT requirements, do your research on the schools you’re considering and plan accordingly. Keep in mind, some schools that require exam scores have policies allowing AP/IB tests in their place. Make sure to read directly off of your preferred universities admission policy to decide your next steps. Even if it may seem counterintuitive, applying to a test blind school with an application including standardized test scores, no matter how prestigious the school or how good of a score you have, is a waste of space. Good luck matadors.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Eddy Martinez, Reporter
Eddy Martinez is part of Granada's class of 2024. Having lived in many different California cities, he's interested in local politics and social change taking place in California. When he's not working on his academics or working his part time job, he's exploring California's beauty at places like Yosemite, San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Comments (0)

All The Pomegranate Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *