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A coalition of students and activists are suing one of the biggest university systems over the SAT

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Why the SAT might be ruled illegal
Key Points
  • Plaintiffs argue that SAT and ACT exams are discriminatory
  • Proponents of the SAT believe the tests are important in predicting applicants' ability to succeed in college.

With acceptance rates at top colleges and universities falling to record or near-record lows, high school students and families are feeling more pressure to do whatever they can to get into elite schools.

A prime example is the "Varsity Blues" scandal.

As the stakes are getting higher to attain a bachelor's degree, college admission processes have been under increased scrutiny. 

The University of California system is facing a lawsuit from a group of students, educators and advocates over its use of SAT and ACT in college admissions decisions.

The plaintiffs argue that SAT and ACT exams are discriminatory because they have created a lucrative test-prep industry that is out of reach for many low-income families.

"I don't think it's an achievement test. I think it shows an achievement gap," said plaintiff Kawika Smith, a high school senior from south Los Angeles.

Proponents of the SAT, owned by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization, believe that standardized tests are important in predicting applicants' ability to succeed in college and leveling the playing fields.

Jerome White, a spokesman for the College Board, said the University of California's use of standardized testing is "thoughtful and responsible" and "promotes diversity and success."

The University of California is seeking the have the suit dismissed. A hearing is scheduled for May 12. The result of this lawsuit could heavily influence all college admission processes in the U.S. because the University of California is one of the nation's biggest public university systems.

Editor's note: This report was updated with additional comment from the College Board.