College Board to End SAT Subject Tests and SAT Optional Essay


Angela Chien, Staff Writer

One of the sources of students’ stress is finally coming to a halt. On Jan. 19, College Board, the non-profit organization that develops and administers standardized testing for higher education, announced that it is ending subject exams and the optional essay part of the SAT forever.

The SAT Subject exams, also known as SAT II tests, are a series of 800-point multiple choice exams that test students’ knowledge of more than 20 subjects in science, history, math, English, and languages. Aside from taking the SAT that is required for most colleges in the U.S., students have been encouraged to take two to three subjects tests as part of their college applications.

“The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability for low-income students and students of color means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know,” College Board said in a statement on Jan. 19.

College Board has begun refunding fees for Subject Tests for U.S. students and will administer two more tests in May and June for international locations.

“I personally thought that the College Board made a great decision to scrap the optional essays and subject tests. This alleviates a lot of unnecessary stress off of students and would be a relief for 12th graders as well,” junior Sharon Shen said.

As for the optional essay, it will be discontinued after June 2021.

“There are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing,” College Board said.

College Board also noted that the process to discontinue certain aspects of the tests was already underway prior to the pandemic, which happened to catalyze it. There has been a steady decline in Subject Test participation in the past decade as many colleges began to drop application requirements for them. And although this discontinuance may be a service to the majority of the classes of 2022 and 2023, it may be an obstacle for others. For example, this may impact students who attend the 2,000 high schools that do not have the AP curricula for them to showcase their knowledge as College Board advised, or homeschooled students who want to demonstrate their ability beyond a letter grade.

In September 2020, the University of California system suspended any use of test scores in admissions. Three-fourths of U.S colleges and the California State University system promptly followed suit, canceling their requirements for ACT and SAT score submissions. Some people believe that the standardized testing requirement in college applications will soon meet its demise in the future.

No matter how “standardized” these tests are, they are often not accurate portrayals of a student’s ability in handling academics.


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