February 8, 2021

College Board dropped SAT subject tests; what now?

The College Board announced in January that there would be no more SAT subject tests or writing section. Although most colleges and universities have not required these tests, there are some things that future applicants should keep in mind now that they are no longer options to demonstrate academic proficiency in particular areas, especially in math and the sciences.

Why did the College Board make this decision? Since the numbers of colleges and universities that required or suggested either the writing section or the subject tests have decreased dramatically over the past few years, it was no longer cost-effective for the College Board to continue creating, offering, administering and grading the exams. Dropping the tests was also a way to eliminate student stress after the difficulties faced by this year’s seniors as they attempted to find venues for the SATs and ACTs. Also, since the students who generally take the SAT subject tests are high-achieving in those particular fields, the comparable value of the tests hasn’t mattered much. It’s less of a competitive advantage.

All students who had signed up for any subject tests will be notified and the fees will be refunded, according to the College Board. 

What does that mean for high school sophomores and juniors as they do their college planning?

  • If you have already taken subject tests and the scores are competitive, you may still opt to send them to colleges if they indicate that they will be accepting scores.
  • Consider reviewing their academic plans and increasing the level of difficulty of their courses.  Colleges will be looking at your grades, reading teacher and counselor evaluations, and your scores on AP tests, which basically will give them an understanding of your level of achievement in your subjects.
  • Try to find courses outside school or electives in areas of interest that will help you demonstrate interest and achievements.
  • Continue to prepare and sign up for SAT and ACT tests because they will still be offered, and you won’t know for a while about what schools are going to do regarding test-optional.
  • Keep informed about the colleges and universities that have considered the subject tests for specific programs (like engineering or honors programs). They will be deciding how to re-direct their evaluation process.

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