College Board looks to University of California for guidance on SAT Essay

In a recent article for Inside Higher Ed, author Scott Jaschik discusses the recent wave of colleges dropping the SAT/ACT Essay requirement.

The essay portion “has never been a requirement for most colleges,” Jaschik writes. Rather,  only “a few dozen colleges” mandated the SAT/ACT essay in recent years.

In March, Harvard announced it was dropping the essay requirement, followed by Yale and the University of San Diego, and in July, Princeton, Stanford, CalTEch, Brown, Duke, and, finally, the University of Michigan.

College deans cite several reasons for the change in admission policies. Some reference the additional expenses: money, time, and stress. Some state that perhaps the essay test is not the best measure of writing ability.

But “for those hoping that the essay disappears,” Jaschik writes, “there may be one giant obstacle: the University of California.”

The University of California, under which umbrella are UC Berkely, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Davis, and others, receives more than 200,000 undergraduate applications per year, and all applicants must complete the essay requirement.

Why does this matter?

“The College Board has given every indication,” Jaschik writes, “that it sees the University of California as a crucial system when it comes to any changes in the SAT.”

As colleges drop the requirement, the College Board has “largely remained silent,” Jaschik writes.

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