Students find relief after SAT subject tests, optional essay are discontinued


Peter Pu

The SAT Subject Tests and optional SAT Essay will be discontinued.

Louis Auxenfans, Reporter

The College Board announced Jan. 19 that it would discontinue the SAT Subject Tests and optional SAT Essay, leaving mixed feelings among students and making way for other means of measuring academic ability.

We have been seeing the writing on the wall for these two particularly things in our business for years. I think that COVID really just sped up the sinking of the Titanic.

— Patty Kovacs

The College Board indicated in a statement that eliminating the subject tests and essay is part of a process to “reduce and simplify demands on students” that was accelerated by the pandemic. With the “expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability,” the subject tests are no longer necessary for students to showcase their skills.

College counselor Patty Kovacs anticipated that the College Board would discontinue the subjects tests and essay due to the diminishing financial returns and declining demand.

“We have been seeing the writing on the wall for these two particularly things in our business for years,” Ms. Kovacs said. “I think that COVID really just sped up the sinking of the Titanic.”

For both juniors and seniors, the news served as validation that standardized tests are not the best way to measure student’s abilities for the college application process.

Junior Will Trone, who was planning to take the SAT with essay in March, said the news reduced his stress and demonstrated the changing landscape of standardized testing.

“I think the SAT subject tests have started to be less important, less telling for colleges,” Will said. “It’s good that the College Board is willing to take a look at their tests, their processes, reevaluate and make changes accordingly. I really think it is a positive step.” 

Looking back, senior Elizabeth Lin said it was a good move for the College Board to take away the subject tests because it relieves the stress associated with testing.

“It’s shown that perhaps colleges can begin to shift away from standardized testing to look at other ways to judge applicants and consider applicants,” she said, adding that because not every student performs well on standardized testing, they should not be judged only on that. 

However, the news was disappointing for junior Maya Mubayi, who was studying 10 hours a week during the summer for the SAT Math Level 2 and Chemistry Subject Test. 

“I did find it really stressful just because I feel like there are other ways I would rather spend my summer,” Maya said.

But, Maya also found it relieving that the College Board canceled the subject tests because she said she doesn’t agree that standardized testing accurately measures academic ability. 

“I just think that they never really tested how good you are, it’s just one day of your life that they are testing you on,” Maya said. “It’s like a day of testing that doesn’t show as much as an entire school year.”  

Ms. Kovacs said she is glad with the decision and that the new testing strategy may make college admissions better.

 “It’s one time-suck and money thrown into the maw of college admissions,” Ms. Kovacs said. “The rigor of the classes that you take in high school and your performance in them and your engagement in the community… is much more important.”