Saratoga reacts to cancellation of Subject SATs and SAT Essays

February 6, 2021 — by Shaan Sridhar
Photo by Getty Images

College-entrance exams have changed dramatically as a result of the pandemic


The College Board announced on Jan. 19 it will no longer administer subject SATs to U.S. students or the optional essay in the SAT after the June test. 

Students in the U.S. will automatically have their subject tests canceled and refunded while international students may take the test two final times in May and June. International students may cancel their test and receive a refund by calling College Board customer service.

Students registered for the optional essay may cancel it in their online account without fees until the registration deadline.

In a blog post on its website, the College Board said it made these changes as “students and colleges adapt to new realities and changes to the college admissions process.”

The College Board added that Advanced Placement (AP) classes and tests are better measures of a student’s knowledge in a specific subject and provide the “hands-on learning experiences” and “real-world work” that colleges look for in students. They also said the optional SAT essay was no longer necessary.

“Writing remains essential to college readiness and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills, but there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing,” the board said.

Guidance counselor Eileen Allen said students shouldn’t feel too much impact from the change.

“Students choose courses based on preference and not on what subject test they plan to take,” Allen said. “Research shows that standardized testing isn’t a good predictor of a student’s potential for success at the college level. How a student has done in courses in the day-to-day is a far more accurate predictor.”

Sophomore Aarav Badani felt a combination of disappointment and relief at the College Board’s decision.

“I think that the subject tests were a good way to show your academic abilities and, for that reason, I think this change hurts me academically,” Badani said. “However, concerning my student and social life, I think the decision is a big relief. I no longer have to worry about how to fit studying for the subject tests and SAT essay into my schedule, which allows me to spend more time with friends.”

Allen said the changes are long overdue.

“There is no doubt that students from affluent communities fare better on standardized tests,” Allen said. “Standardized testing presents some very real issues around equity. It is far past time that colleges start looking at the fairness and equity of including it as an admission factor.”


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