UCs and CSUs 2020

Posted by Stephanie Brady on 10/11/2020

There is no question much has changed and continues to change in the world of college admissions for Fall 2021. My advice...control what you can and trust that admissions representatives understand there has been a great deal of community disruption, and will not hold what you can not control against you. One aspect you can control is staying informed and checking school websites regularly for updates.


What Stayed the Same
Comprehensive Review (Holistic)
  • As always, UC campuses look for strong grades, course preparation, and a comprehensive educational experience. The UCs have and will continue to assess students through a system of comprehensive review. See link
  • Students are evaluated holistically within the context of their environment. For Fall 2021, the comprehensive review process includes academic accomplishments, personal achievements, and personal insight questions (PIQ’s). 
  • The importance placed on each category can vary by the UC campus. See link
You control what information you provide. There are no letters of recommendation or counselor reports for the UCs. Think of your application as your resume and your PIQs as your interview on paper. Provide detail, insight, and depth, so admissions representatives get a 360-degree view of who you are and how you meet their comprehensive review factors.
What is Different
Grades for Winter, Spring, and Summer 2020
*Although a student will not receive an extra point in the GPA calculation, the UC-approved honors courses (including AP) are still considered in the comprehensive review as taking a challenging curriculum. 
SAT and ACT Test Scores
  • Test scores are NOT required for Fall 2021 admission
  • If you choose to send scores, they may be considered “value-added,” but UCs will not penalize students for not sending scores. 
  • Currently, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Davis will NOT look at standardized testing in their admissions process. For other campuses, it is important to monitor their websites closely as the situation evolves.
  • Test scores may be used for post-enrollment course placement.
*On September 1, 2020, a California State Court judge issued a preliminary injunction stating that the UC system may not use standardized scores in admissions. The legal case is still pending, but at a minimum, UCs are test-optional (scores are not required, but strong scores can help) and may become test-blind.


What Stayed the Same
Index Review
  • Acceptance to CSU campuses is based on GPA and “A-G” coursework (students self-report grades).
  • No essays or activities lists are required (some campuses ask students to report the number of hours spent on extracurricular activities and/or work experience).
What is Different
New Deadline
  • The priority application period for the Fall 2021 semester opens on Thursday, October 1, 2020, and closes on Friday, December 4, 2020.
NO SAT and ACT Test Scores
  • The CSUs have temporarily suspended the use of SAT and ACT test scores for admission purposes. 
  • If SAT and ACT test scores are submitted, the CSU will use scores for placement in English and mathematics courses. Please visit the CSU Student Success site for additional information on placement. 
  • If you have not taken a test, you can opt-out of the Standardized Tests section of Cal State Apply.
New Admissions policy
  • The CSU will consider course grades of “credit" or “pass" as fulfilling “a-g" requirements for those courses completed during winter, spring, or summer 2020 terms.
  • Grades of credit/pass or no credit/no pass will not be included in the calculation of high school GPA.
  • First-time freshmen for the term of fall 2021 must earn a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
  • Students earning a GPA between 2.00 and 2.49 may be evaluated for admission based upon supplemental factors. Check individual campuses.
  • To find more information on the admission requirements for Fall 2021, please visit the First-time Freshman Guidance
  • Impaction means that there are more qualified applicants for a program or campus than can be accommodated. For the most current information, visit the CSU Impaction center.
  • Campuses and programs designated as impacted may utilize higher “a-g” GPA thresholds for applicants, as well as identify supplemental criteria and their relative weights in making admission decisions (students will be prompted to answer supplemental questions on the application, but will not have to submit any additional materials).