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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ionescu

What does the cancellation of subject tests really mean?

As some of you may have read, the College Board is officially doing away with its SAT subject tests and the optional essay portion of the SAT. What does this mean for the average student?

The short answer is: not much.

Regarding the optional essay on SAT, it has been virtually useless for years ever since it was introduced as a separate score back in 2015. No colleges had any type of score requirement, and no college even got a copy of it to read and evaluate. I stopped teaching students how to write the essay because it had zero impact on a student’s English and Math scores. The benefit of cutting the essay is that it will ultimately save students time and brainpower that would have otherwise gone into writing during test day.

The SAT subject test, like the SAT essay, has also been growing gradually more obsolete over the past years, even more so with the continued rise of AP classes. SAT subject tests are a way for high school students to show off their advanced knowledge in specific subjects like Calculus, Physics, foreign language, etc.

AP tests, however, cover an even broader range of subjects, and more people are taking them, making the subject tests redundant. Over the past decade only ~200K students annually would take a subject test, and that number decreases every year. Over 2.5 million students take AP tests annually, however, and that number only increases.

Overall, both of these changes were a long time coming. I do not believe this signals the end for standardized testing; rather, it’s just a long overdo consolidation of test options. Ultimately this is good news for students because it means two fewer testing options to worry about when applying to college.

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