SAT Subject Tests and Essay Portion Canceled

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By CHAITANYA KOTRA
Staff Writer

The College Board, who administers SAT testing, believes the SAT’s Reading and Writing portions are more accurate indicators of a student’s writing abilities. (Courtesy BoJack Horseman, edited by Chaitanya Kotra)

The College Board is discontinuing their series of specialized SAT Subject Tests, along with the Essay portion of the SAT.
This decision was announced on January 19th. While the 20 SAT Subject Tests, or SAT II’s, were discontinued immediately following the announcement, the essay portion of the SAT will disappear after the administration of the June 2021 SAT.
The College Board reportedly made this decision in order to facilitate many colleges’ and students’ shift in focus and opportunities as a result of the ongoing pandemic and how it has prevented many students from being able to take these standardized tests.
The College Board Blog stated, “We’re reducing demands on students. The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know.”
The College Board justified their decision to terminate the SAT Essay because they believe that there are other methods for students to display their writing skills.
“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, and the SAT will continue to measure writing throughout the test,” The College Board Blog stated. “The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language sections are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT.”
In response to these cancelations, students such as junior Eric Chen feel that they don’t have as many options to demonstrate their academic caliber to prospective colleges anymore, as many opportunities for the SAT, ACT, and other competitive exams have constantly been postponed or canceled due to the pandemic.
“I think that eliminating the SAT Subject Tests and the essay portion just further limits our ability to show our academic [potential]. This is worse for students, especially in college apps, because it puts even more weight on things like GPA and AP tests. It’s already hard in quarantine. With these even more limited options, it really doesn’t help,” Chen said.
Junior Rohan Nambimadom also worries about how this will affect his college application process and questions the fairness of these test cancellations.
“I’m sort of… worried about college apps now, considering that some students in other schools may have already taken [several] SAT Subject Tests, so they could be ahead of the curve in some regards,” Nambimadom said, having taken one of the tests himself.
Other students, such as junior Jasmine Nourisamie believe that the SAT Essay and Subject Tests being permanently cancelled is good because it reduces students’ workloads.
“There are topics covered on the SAT Subject Tests that students have to study on their own, which can be time-consuming. Along with the essay, getting rid of these two things allows students to have less things to worry about,” Nourisamie said.
Some students, including junior Haedam Im, suggest that the College Board should have kept the tests, but modified them to fit a digitized platform, effectively facilitating testing for more students everywhere.
“It is not a bad choice, but I believe there could have been better solutions such as just eliminating the SAT scores for this year,” Im said. “There are students who don’t even have an opportunity to take the test, while others had. Therefore, I think colleges and the College Board should [have come up with] a better, more equal way to provide testing, [such as] testing all online similar to the AP tests [last year].”
“While I like the fact that students have less things to study for and worry about during the pandemic, I can’t help but feel like we are going to miss out on an opportunity to show colleges what we know,” Nourisamie said.