The University of California announced today that it has “temporarily relaxed some undergraduate admissions policies” for the fall 2021 freshman class so that “students are not penalized by their inability to earn letter grades for academic classes or take standardized tests during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The temporary changes to UC admission requirements include the following:

  • UC will not require a letter grade for A-G courses taken this year in winter, spring or summer
  • UC will not require applicants for the fall 2021 freshman class to submit ACT or SAT scores

This announcement has left many high school juniors with questions. To help clarify things, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and provided answers below. 

Where can I find the latest updates to UC’s admission policies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?

You can read UC’s response at https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/response-covid-19.html.

This webpage has updates for changes to UC admissions policies that affect current high school seniors (class of 2020) and younger students as well. Click on the “+” next to the questions to see the answers.

I’m a junior planning to apply for the fall 2021 freshman class and have not yet taken the SAT/ACT. Should I still take it?

Yes, it’s still a good idea to take the SAT or ACT. To quote UC’s response:

“Students applying for fall 2021 are not precluded from taking standardized tests (SAT or ACT) and sending scores if they are able. Doing so can support their statewide UC eligibility, application for certain scholarships, and help them fulfill some University graduation requirements.”

In other words, even though the SAT or ACT is optional for current high school juniors (high school class of 2021), like a good score on an AP test, a good score on the SAT or ACT can only enhance your application. The website goes on to point out that “This modification to the test requirement is not intended as an admissions policy shift but is rather a temporary accommodation driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.”

I’m a junior planning to apply for the fall 2021 freshman class and have already taken the SAT/ACT. What does this mean for me?

First of all, congratulations for planning ahead! Secondly, it means you should go ahead and submit your SAT or ACT score with your application. Now that SAT and ACT scores are optional for the fall 2021 freshman class, any score you report can only help your application.

Are SAT or ACT scores useless on a UC application now that they are optional for the freshman class of 2021?

Absolutely not. Consider the fact that more than 109,000 people applied to UCLA for the freshman class of 2020. Last year, more than 87,000 people applied as freshmen to UC Berkeley. Exceptional SAT or ACT scores are still a great way to stand out from the tens of thousands of other applicants applying to the same school as you.

Will I still get credit for taking AP classes and exams?

Yes. The College Board will offer 45-minute online, open-note, free-response AP exams this spring. The University of California’s policies regarding AP exams remain the same. From the UC response:

“UC recognizes the effort that students have already made in these challenging courses and will continue to award UC credit consistent with previous years for 2020 AP exams completed with scores of 3, 4, or 5.”

If you’re planning to take online AP exams this spring and are looking for help preparing, Elite Prep offers live online Elite Premier Tutoring for AP exams. We also offer flexible, full-credit, online AP courses and transcripts in partnership with Elite Open School – a great option for students who want to raise their GPA. If you’re interested, let us know how we can help.

If UC is temporarily suspending some of their admissions requirements, how will they make admissions decisions?

While UC has not issued a specific statement about changes to their “comprehensive review” process, we must assume that since, in some cases, they will have less information about an applicant than usual (like SAT/ACT scores and letter grades for A-G courses from spring 2020), they will need to rely more heavily on other information, including:

  • GPA (not including spring 2020 courses)
  • Strength of curriculum (the number of AP and honors courses you’ve taken)
  • Personal insight question responses (UC’s college application essays)
  • Extracurricular activities and accomplishments outside the classroom
  • SAT Subject Test scores (for applicable programs like engineering majors)

Your local Elite branch directors and counselors are experts in college admissions. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a free, no-obligation college counseling video call or phone conference.

I’m a high school junior. Is it too early to start writing my college application essays?

It’s not too early. For many high school juniors, now is an excellent time to start writing your college application essays and putting together a competitive college application package. Elite counselors are standing by with useful information and strategies to help you reach your college-admission goals. All our college application services are available online. Contact us to learn more.COLLEGE ADMISSIONSSATACTAPRIL 1, 2020