What the University of California test-free policy means for applicants

Given the University of California (UC) test-free admissions policy, potential UC applicants will need to rethink how they prepare for admissions as well as frame their qualifications when applying, as subjectivity in admissions evaluations will likely increase:

  • As more students may be emboldened to apply, especially those who believe standardized test scores do not reflect their aptitude, thus increasing applicant pools, admissions officers can be subjective when choosing who to admit or not, thus outcomes may seem to reflect a lottery-like capriciousness. 
  • Furthermore, since UC applicants are neither required nor largely allowed to submit letters of recommendation*, applicants cannot further validate their argument for admissions with more objective testimonials as evidence of their value as a candidate
  • Students who can validate their aptitude with a standardized test score, have lost a metric which could strengthen their applications. Thus, they’ll need to find other means to share their talents and intellectual potential with admissions officers in other components of the application, like their transcripts, extracurricular resume, or Personal Insight Questions, the UC’s version of college essays. 

Thus, amidst the changing admissions evaluations, students with their parents’ support, will benefit from reframing their admissions preparation from “What do I need to do to be accepted?” to “Why am I seeking admissions?” Moreover, students will need to begin earlier and consistently engage opportunities both in and outside of the classroom where they’ll discover an inherent aptitude that admissions officers can more accurately evaluate when reading the totality of an application

*Note: UC Berkeley admissions process is a notable exception, as first year applicants are routinely requested to submit additional, yet optional letters of recommendation


For more information see our recent post: The UC Extends Test-Free Admissions Through Fall 2025, and for full details about the UC test-free admissions policy, read the posted settlement.


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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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