By Abigail Grigoryan
College Board, the nonprofit that administers the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams, announced on January 19 that it will no longer offer SAT Subject Tests or the essay section of the general SAT. This decision came due to the decline in the number of standardized test takers, largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although this makes the college admissions process less influenced by test scores and more on academic character, this may lead to more stress for students since now only one final score is valued instead of what could have been a great Subject Test score. Many high school students used Subject Tests to compensate for weaknesses in their Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Mathematics scores to show their strengths in specific courses. While eliminating a piece of what many argue to be an inequity in the educational preparation, this creates more competition in gaining acceptance to top universities, which has never been more difficult since so many universities have already adopted “Test Optional Policies.” For students in the United States and especially international students, the SAT Subject Tests would no longer be an opportunity to demonstrate specific skills, which largely hinders students who must now discover other ways to express their knowledge within standardized testing. In addition to having to develop new means of expressing their strength through the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Mathematics sections, students now need to put more effort into their Advanced Placement (AP) tests, which is a critical part of receiving college credit.
After news of the College Board discontinuing Subject Tests was released, many were relieved and started petitioning for the abolishment of the SAT itself. However, it is still the fairest thing about the college admissions process. Without standardized testing, colleges would have no way of comparing students from different schools academically because schools have varying grade inflation or deflation. On a 4.0 scale, there is no way that two students would be judged equally based on their profiles without seeing their proficiencies. Aside from extracurriculars and personal resumes, students have to compete with the Standardized Test scores of legacy students. Developing arguments that standardized testing has to do with racial and class discrimination, completely undermines the sole purpose of the exams and the actual college admission process. From both sides, it is disproportionate but eliminating means that allows other students to excel, takes away from academic achievement. Not everyone is a great test taker which is why “Test Optional” policies are set in place but it is completely unfair for students that relied on Subject Tests to now have to resort to being reviewed on one score despite a possibility of having a greater Subject Test score.