It’s finally happened. College Board is discontinuing the SAT essay and the SAT Subject Tests.
With fewer and fewer schools requiring them each year (2020 saw the number dwindled to single digits) and so many schools going test-optional/test blind (read more about this here), the end was inevitable.
Why Has This Happened?
Colleges and universities already revamped their admissions process due to COVID. Gone is the requirement for standardized test scores at over 1,600 schools (an acknowledgment that students may not have had a “good” test score to send since many ACT/SAT tests were canceled due to COVID). In its place, a greater focus on a student’s GPA, coursework, activities, and essays. Thus, less of a need for the SAT essay or Subject Tests.
But lest you think College Board has waived the white flag, don’t forget they are also the administrators of the AP exams. And AP exams have been growing in popularity in recent years as more schools have gone test-flexible. “What’s test-flexible?” you may be wondering. Some schools are no longer requiring applicants to submit a specific type of test such as the ACT or SAT, but instead are now allowing applicants to choose the tests they want to send. ACT or SAT are still acceptable, but now so are AP and IB and (until today) SAT Subject Test scores.
SAT Essays are about to be a thing of the past (hopefully the ACT will jump on this bandwagon soon). This is good as very schools were using them anyway. [Note: If you’re signed up to take the essay with any SAT through June 2021, you can still take it or you can change your registration and request a refund of the essay fee.]
SAT Subject Tests are also a thing of the past. While this sounds like great news for students, it poses a problem for homeschooled students. Homeschooled students often rely upon these types of standardized tests to prove their mastery of a subject. I believe this will only add to the popularity of the AP exams.
The Impact to College Admissions
In general, a decreased reliance on standardized tests is good as this has been proven to promote both equity and academic quality. (Fairtest.org) These tests are but a snapshot of a student’s ability. GPA and coursework are a better predictor of college outcome for students.
As a college admissions coach (and a mom), I would prefer my students spend more time on their favorite activities, deepening their knowledge through their academic work, and exploring their interests rather than studying for the ACT or SAT. I want my students to know they are more than just a number and that the quality of their work both in and out the class is more important to how well they do on a single test.
Is this the beginning of the end to standardized testing? No one knows for sure. But the move to test-optional/test-blind/test-flexible certainly signals the beginning of the acceptance that a student is more than a number. Even if that number is 1600 on the SAT or 36 on the ACT.