If you want to get into university in the US, especially a highly ranked or elite university, you probably need to take either the SAT or ACT exams. These are slightly different test of your language, mathematical and a few other skills and talents. They have traditionally been one of the main filters used to select the elect and the damned, college wise.
These exams have been heavily criticised, mostly for the fact that some disadvantaged minorities do poorly on them compared to children of the wealthy and others willing and able to pay for elite high schools and expensive test preparation. As a result, many elite schools have multiple standards for admission. If you are a disadvantaged minority or an advantaged legacy (child of graduates) your score is treated as if it were maybe a couple of hundred points higher. One the other hand, if you are Asian, subtract a hundred points or so.
A few year back, the gigantic California University system was subjected to a new State law that made it illegal to consider race in admissions. The result was that the elite universities filled up with talented and hard working Asian students and disadvantaged minorities were largely excluded.
In response to the resulting ethnic disparities, the UC system very recently decided to ban use of the SAT and ACT. Of course this leaves the problem of how to choose the winners of the coveted slots at the elite schools. Apparently this leaves high school grades as the deciding filter. If you suspect that this might lead to rampant grade inflation, you might suffer from the same cynical bent as your humble correspondent.
Meanwhile, the UC will try to come up with its own race fair system. Good luck trying to find a test that won't favor those with the resources and willingness to pay for high quality test prep.
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