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Goodbye to SAT Subject Tests

It came as no surprise that College Board announced that they would discontinue "the supplementary exams in various fields known as SAT subject tests." The organization, citing the coronavirus crisis, said the pandemic has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to reduce and simplify demands on students.”

College Board also said that Advanced Placement courses are better measures of a student’s knowledge in specific subject areas these days, as they “provide the type of hands-on learning experiences and practical, real-world work that colleges want to see from students.” CEO David Coleman said in a statement: “As students and colleges adapt to new realities and changes to the college admissions process, the College Board is making sure our programs adapt with them.”

The requirement of SAT subject tests by institutions has seen a sharp decline in recent years. Each year, fewer students chose to take them as colleges changed their policies. Once required, recommended or considered by many schools, roughly 50 US colleges, most with highly competitive admissions, were open to the tests in 2020:

The elimination of this test is a relief to most students, especially during a pandemic. Many have always grappled with whether or not to take subject tests since the pool of subject test takers is so high-performing; typically, we recommend only sending scores over 700--even 750--to colleges. It's good to see this pressure go.

However, some applicants see the departure of SAT subject tests as a loss of another variable to distinguish themselves from other applicants to the most selective institutions. While I emphasize that students should accept that they have little control over admissions at the most selective institutions, I empathize with their disappointment (even though I truly believe they will have the exceptional outcomes they desire even without admissions to and a degree from HYPS). Let's focus on what we can control by creating the strongest applications possible.


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