Why Did the College Board Scrap Subject Tests and Essays?

by Neeharika Beru ’22

Source: The Washington Post

Published Feb. 7th, 2021

Since January 19, when the College Board declared that they are discontinuing SAT Subject Tests and Essays, the news has spread like wildfire among students. If you haven’t already heard about this announcement, the College Board has stated that the Subject Tests have been discontinued effective immediately, and the SAT Essay will be discontinued after June 2021 in the United States. On an international scale, the SAT Subject Tests will be administered only in May and June 2021. This will not only affect students applying to colleges during the upcoming 2021 season, but it will also affect generations to come.

The reason why the College Board has decided to abolish these tests is straightforward: officials say they are “reducing demands on students. The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know” (College Board).

On top of this, according to The Washington Post, the Subject Tests and the optional essay were already decreasing in popularity ever since many prestigious schools declared these tests to be optional in their admissions processes.

As the incentive to take these tests decreased, experts also questioned how academically beneficial these tests were. A combination of these factors is what finally pushed officials to scrap the exams.

Through a student’s perspective, this benefits high school students nationwide because the decision eradicates the stress of two important tests. High schoolers who are enrolled in AP and other advanced classes may feel less of a workload. At the same time, however, students who do not want to take AP exams are at a loss, since abolishing Subject Tests takes away students’ opportunities to demonstrate their success in a specific subject area. Nevertheless, students can now focus on studying for the more important tests, like the regular SAT or ACT, to exhibit their intelligence.

You might ask: why did the College Board decide to scrap these right now in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic? You would think that with everything going on in the world, changing something as big as this would add to the chaos.

Yet, this is not the case. Officials have said that the pandemic has “accelerated a process already underway” (College Board). In other words, the College Board has already been meaning to abolish the tests; the pandemic only served as the final catalyst for the decision.

Whether or not this decision benefits or harms students may be up for debate, but most people agree that it does change a huge part of the college admissions process. Students can expect to see colleges revising their testing policies in the upcoming months. Either way, many students were able to breathe a sigh of relief after hearing the official cancellation of two notorious exams.

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