The College Board Cancels SAT Subject Tests

With pandemic changes, standard testing standards are permanently changing for high school students.

A student anxiously bubbles in a scantron on a standardized test.

Photo Courtesy of @KGNS-TV 8 on Facebook

A student anxiously bubbles in a scantron on a standardized test.

Sydney Girvin, Managing Editor

Thousands of students wake up at the crack of dawn several Saturdays throughout the year to sit for daunting standardized tests. Nothing is quite as dreadful as sitting for hours to take a tedious test on a Saturday morning, hoping to do well enough that taking it again becomes unnecessary. After thousands of dollars are spent on tutoring and hundreds of hours are spent studying, the test is finally over and students await their score to see if it will satisfy the college of their dreams. Hearts are usually crushed and the process continues. 

Well, this January, the College Board sent a belated holiday gift to prospective college students – the news that SAT Subject Tests will be discontinued. Subject Tests, also known as SAT II’s, are multiple choice standardized tests centered around an individual subject such as Biology or World History. Typically, students would take these exams to supplement their qualifications for college admissions, but the tests are not as integral to the process as SATs and ACTs.

The College Board website described the perks of these tests, saying that “SAT Subject Tests can help you see how well you’ve learned the subject matter compared to other students around the country and the world.” The College Board also says that students “can send a strong message to colleges about [their] interest in specific majors or programs—and how ready [they] are to tackle the work” through these tests. While this may be true, the website does not acknowledge the stress that these tests added to the already horrid college process, seemingly making this move by the College Board to terminate them a gift. 

With the COVID-19 Pandemic throwing a wrench into the already chaotic admissions process, colleges were forced to decide on a new testing policy. Most institutions opted for a test-optional policy due to several cancellations of the SAT, ACT, and Subject Tests as well. Some colleges plan to continue omitting their testing requirements in the future, beyond this pandemic. Mamaroneck High School Guidance Counselor Cathy Quackenbush thinks that “all of these circumstances played into the College Board’s decision to drop the Subject tests, although reportedly they have been considering this for a while. COVID-19 accelerated their decision making process.” 

MHS Guidance Counselor Lainie Lichtenstein also provided some insight into the intentions of the College Board. She shares that the College Board feels that the AP Exams will serve the purpose of Subject Tests. She says “AP exams allow for more widespread availability. As a result, the College Board just revamped its website and now offers students more AP support.” Does this put more pressure on students to take AP courses? Time will tell. 

For some, this cancelation may be less exciting. Some students may feel that they exceed in a subject or two and a test score to prove it may have helped them along in the college process. In that case, discontinuing these exams may take away that upper hand they might have had otherwise. For many, however, leaving behind Subject Tests is one less stresser that students have to worry about. MHS Guidance Counselor Robert Schwartz exclaims, “I think this is a great move. The less standardized testing the better!”