UCs help all by removing SAT Subject Test requirements

September 9, 2009 — by Brandon Yang

It’s 8 a.m. on the first Saturday in June and the Prospect High School parking lot is nearly empty. A small crowd gathers in front of the office, waiting for a staff member to appear. This is not a scarcely-attended school-sponsored event but a futuristic depiction of the SAT Subject Test administration.

Normally, on these fateful dates designated by CollegeBoard, the hallways are crowded as students rush to their assigned classrooms. However, in two years, significantly fewer students will gather at the test-issuing schools as the UCs have decided to remove SAT subject test requirements for the graduating class of 2012 and after. Such a decision should be applauded; the UC administration is giving both rich and poor students a better chance to prove their eligibility outside of standardized tests whose results can easily be skewed by privileged students capable of affording coaching.

In addition to being a nerve-wracking test, the SATII seems to require not only a serious time investment but also a significant money investment. Every year, students pay $20 to take a subject test and add $9 for each additional subject test, while the SAT reasoning test is $45. Two separate SAT subject tests plus a SAT reasoning test and a calculator add up to around $100.

To the students who can even afford expensive preparatory classes, such an amount may be negligible, but many families are not able to pay for such expenses. The cost of the SAT limits the top students in poorer communities. By removing such restrictions, the UCs are giving deserving teenagers the opportunity to acquire better education.

The SAT subject tests are not an accurate way to measure what people have learned; the tests are simply too easy to coach. By taking preparatory classes or extensively analyzing practice workbooks, students learn different tricks and rules that do not concern the knowledge tested, but give an unfair advantage to those able to afford SAT classes.

Without a deep education in the subject, students earn high scores not by studying the material, but studying specific information that appear on the tests every year. Instead of focusing on such an inaccurate measurement of a student’s abilities, the UCs now focus on achievements in extracurricular activities and school, which are significantly more important.

Despite the benefits provided by this change, some people complain that eliminating the requirement will only give lazy students a better chance of entering the college while those who took the time to study for these tests have their chances decreased. Although people who dislike standardized tests will receive benefits from the decision, students who wish to excel can still use the SAT subject tests to prove their abilities, as the UCs will still accept the scores. Through this change in the application system, both the poor, hard working student and the wealthy, determined student will be able to further their abilities to excel.

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