In an unexpected announcement in mid-January, the College Board said it will cease all SAT Subject Tests immediately in the United States and that it will no longer offer the written essay portion of the SAT college admissions test.
This announcement follows a long-term decline in the schools that required or recommended students submit SAT Subject Test scores, as we noted last year. The essay section has suffered a similar fate in recent years as fewer and fewer schools required it in favor of their internal writing requirements.
In the near-term, the extra seats freed up by the Subject Test cancelations will now be available to takers of the regular SAT admissions test, which continues to be the College Board’s primary product.
The subject tests are the victim of the continued expansion of the College Board’s Advanced Placement courses to more schools across the country. We discussed the pros and cons of this last spring, and little has changed since then. For students at schools who do not offer a wide variety (or any) AP courses, this change will impact their ability to demonstrate competency in higher level math and science courses on par with others across the nation. While Montgomery County Public Schools have pushed to expand access to AP classes to every high school in recent years, that trend does not hold true across the country.
The change also increases the pressure on students to perform well in their AP classes since they will not be able to fall back on the SAT Subject tests any longer to bolster their applications to competitive and STEM-focused schools.
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