SAT subject tests permanently cancelled


SAT Subject Tests are now cancelled. Students across the US who planned to take these supplementary standardized exams will no longer be able to take the test. This change is among other changes to the college admissions process during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAT subject tests, also known as SAT IIs, were permanently canceled by the College Board on Jan. 19. Students who signed up for examinations held through the end of this academic school year will no longer be able to take the exam.

SAT Subject Tests are standardized, hour-long exams that test students’ abilities on specific subjects, like English literature and biology. In the past, many high school students used these subject tests to bolster their college applications.

Yet for many years now, the amount of SAT II test takers has steadily decreased. In 2011, 312,000 students took SAT subject tests. But in 2015, that number declined to just 214,000 students.

Armaan Judge, a junior at Monte Vista, planned on taking the SAT II Math II and Chemistry subject tests.

“The abruptness was kind of ridiculous because they had been constantly postponing and rescheduling the tests, forcing us to study and restudy over and over again,” said Judge. “And when it finally seemed like the test would happen, they canceled it out of the blue. I wouldn’t have a problem with the cancellation if they didn’t keep on rescheduling.”

The College Board explained their decision to cancel the exams.

“We’re reducing demands on students,” wrote the College Board. “The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know.”

Also, the decreasing popularity of exams may have incentivized the College Board to discontinue subject tests for financial reasons. On social media, many students at Monte Vista have indicated their discontent with the College Board’s decision, but Judge provided a more neutral viewpoint.

“I mean I can’t say that I’m not a bit relieved that I don’t have to prepare for exams and can spend that time doing something else, but if they had just made up their mind in the first place to cancel it, it would’ve been fine,” Judge said. “I agree that AP exams made the subject tests redundant because it’s the same material, but you have to study twice. However, for a student who isn’t as inclined to take AP courses, the subject tests may have helped to boost the student’s resume, so it would’ve been better to just leave the option there for those who wanted it. If the person chose not to do it, it would not affect his/her chances to get into a school.”

Judge is referring to test-optional policies in which the submission of SAT or ACT scores is not required from a college applicant. These test-optional policies are growing in popularity across the U.S., especially after the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many colleges providing this option state that submitting test scores can only help but won’t hurt. Test optional colleges include Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard.

The University of California has gone one step further and is going test blind for the 2022 and 2023 application season, meaning that it will not consider any SAT or ACT scores, whether or not you have opted to take these standardized exams. These changes were a result of a California appeals court case in which students alleged that these standardized scores discriminated against applicants of color and those with disabilities. As a result, the California appeals court ruled that the University of California could not use the SAT or ACT to admit students. A spokesperson for the University of California “respectfully disagree[d]” with the court’s decision. `

A recent study elaborated on the effect of test-optional policies and college success. The study followed almost a million college applicants over a multi-year period and found that four-year institutions with test-optional policies increased the diversity of their admissions without lowering graduation rates. They did find, however, that those who chose not to submit standardized test scores had lower GPAs than those who were admitted and did submit scores. These sorts of internal reviews and studies may provide an insight into the thought processes behind many colleges and universities choosing to go test-optional.

The changes colleges are making are in opposition to the very premise of the College Board, to create a national standard that promotes college-readiness and benefits the admissions process. With more schools adopting new testing policies, the future of standardized testing for high school students in the U.S. remains unknown. Judge expressed his opinion on the matter.

“I believe that standardized testing, in general, should be pushed out,” he said. “Colleges should be looking at a student’s grades in their respective courses. As ‘standardized’ as it is, some students do have financial advantages.”

The push for diversity and equality through policies like optional test scores and affirmative action is changing the college application landscape. The future roles of organizations like the College Board and ACT remain uncertain as colleges reconsider the role of standardized testing in college admissions.