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Students React to UC System Going #TestOptionalNow

Student Voice applauds the University of California system's decision to adopt test-optional admissions policies for freshmen entering in fall 2021.

Press Release
April 1, 2020


April 1, 2020

Today, the University of California (UC) public research university system announced their intent to suspend the standardized testing requirement for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the nation’s largest and prominent university systems, the UC system serves over 220,000 undergraduates on nine campuses across California. During the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, students applying to any university within the UC system (Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, UCLA, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz) will not be penalized within the admissions process for not submitting a test score.

Merrit Jones, President of Student Voice, said: “We are thrilled that the UC system has chosen to stand with students and taken this monumental step toward ensuring equity and access in higher education amidst such uncertain times. Based on my conversations with young people and the research we’ve read, I fully expect the number of underrepresented applicants to the UC system to increase as a result of this move and hope that they will reconsider their standardized testing policies for future years.”

The University of California System’s decision reflects the concerns of nearly 1000 individuals across the country who have signed onto a petition calling colleges and universities to adopt test-optional admissions policies for all applicants to their institution during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Led by the student-led nonprofit Student Voice, those signing on to the petition’s #TestOptionalNOW statement represent a diverse group of students, educators and organizations from across the country.

Now, Student Voice is mobilizing its network of students from all 50 states behind the #TestOptionalNOW movement by leading a letter writing campaign to university deans of enrollment and admissions to urge them to go test-optional for the fall.

Maodan Tohouri, a junior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California said, “I’m excited to see the UC system taking this step to ensure the barrier to higher education will not be a test score. This has been reassuring during a time of uncertainty and chaos.”

Endiya Griffin, a senior at San Diego Met High School in San Diego, California said, “While I am overjoyed that the UC system has made this crucial decision to support its prospective students, I believe that education reform must be more than reactionary. It shouldn’t take a global pandemic for us to make necessary change. We’ve known for years that standardized testing is an inequitable way to measure student success, so I would urge the UC system as well as higher education institutions across the nation to turn this moment of collective empathy and adaptation into a movement — to recognize that students are and have always been more than just statistics.”

Gabriella Staykova, a junior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky said, “As a high school junior, I’m excited because I know the UC system is massive, and many students will benefit from this change. I hope this pushes other universities across the country to make the switch to test-optional policies because the impacts of COVID-19 stretch far beyond California.”

Our COVID-19 Response: 
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Student Voice is committed to addressing the educational inequity exacerbated by this health crisis through rapid response advocacy campaigns and digital organizing. We will provide critical community space among social distancing, educate young people on the relationship between systemic injustice and the contemporary education system and help student organizers base build through coalition work for long-term, substantive action beyond this health crisis. Our COVID-19 response can be tracked at

About Student Voice

Student Voice is a by-students, for-students 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in all 50 states to equip students as storytellers, organizers and institutional partners who advocate for student-driven solutions to educational inequity. Through direct civic action, Student Voice helps students hold their schools and surrounding communities accountable to the Student Bill of Rights and prepares them to become lifelong agents of social and political change. For more information about Student Voice, visit our website at and follow @Stu_Voice and #StuVoice on social media.

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