College Board Changes the Subject

By Priya Persaud


Source by Anna Detke

SAT Essays and Subject Tests are gone for good, and this decision will impact college admissions for years to come.


The SAT is an examination that is notoriously known to stress students out. Otherwise known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT examination has been administered since 1926, and only recently has the College Board announced that they will no longer offer the optional essay and subject tests. These new changes were triggered by the strain of the pandemic, and it is beginning to display vast effects on the college admissions process and the relevance of testing.


In 2005, the optional SAT Essay was introduced to the world of testing, which served as a way to explore the value of writing skills. Giving students fifty minutes to coherently analyze a text added to the already growing amount of stress that college-bound students had to face. The subject tests are individual exams about specific subjects, given to students in an effort to showcase their academic strengths. Therefore, the decision to take them away is influential and will impact college admissions.


As students and colleges adapt to new realities and changes to the college admissions process, the College Board is making sure their programs adapt with them.


"We’re making some changes to reduce demands on students," said the College Board in a recent post.


With these new implemented changes, the effect on students who are already beginning their college admissions process is unknown. The removal of essay writing and the inability to show colleges the strengths that students could have in specific subjects could inadvertently place more pressure on students to do well on an exam that focuses primarily on reading and math. However, this new change could allow colleges to fully comprehend a student’s portfolio without being labeled by a numerical standardized test score.


With these new implemented changes, the effect on students who are already beginning their college admissions process is unknown....

“I applaud the decision. It levels the playing field for all students and places more of an emphasis on high school grades. I did, however, believe that the subject tests improved a student’s validity in certain areas. It was good for students who knew their strengths and knew where they were headed,” said junior Nicholas Singh.


It is important to recognize, though, that the number of students actually taking a standardized test has been on the decline since 2011. With many schools going test-optional, especially during this pandemic, there is less of an emphasis on testing and more of a focus on trying to maintain good grades within high school classes.


Among these changes, international students will be able to take the subject tests for only two more sessions in May and June of 2021. However, any U.S. student that registered for a subject test will be refunded.


“I personally think that colleges are now going to focus more on the math and English parts and scrutinize students based on their scores when it comes to both that and their GPA. I think, if anything, this isn’t a relevant way of testing because students who aren’t necessarily good at math or English won’t really have a good shot of passing the test with a decent score,” said junior Tesna Cherian.