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The Ivy Coach Daily

January 19, 2021

SAT Subject Tests Are No More

Yale University was SAT Subject Test-blind this year (photo credit: Namkota).

In major breaking college admissions news, The College Board announced today the elimination of SAT Subject Tests in all disciplines as well as the elimination of the optional writing portion of the SAT. The SAT Subject Tests, previously known as the SAT II exams, have been a staple offering of College Board since 1937 yet as of today for students here in the United States, they are no more. They have been eliminated effective immediately. For international students, SAT Subject Tests will be eliminated by next summer. The optional 50-minute essay for the SAT is also now obsolete — heck, we’ve been arguing it’s been obsolete for some time on the pages of our college admissions blog — as it too has been eliminated effective immediately.

College Board Eliminates SAT Subject Tests and Writing Portion of SAT to “Streamline”

As Nick Anderson reports for The Washington Post in a piece entitled “College Board is scrapping SAT’s optional essay and subject tests,” “The College Board announced Tuesday it will discontinue those assessments. Citing the coronavirus crisis, officials said the pandemic has ‘accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to reduce and simplify demands on students.’ The testing organization, based in New York, also revealed the launch of a process to revise the main SAT, aiming to make the admission test ‘more flexible’ and ‘streamlined’ and enable students to take the exam digitally instead of with pencil and paper.”

College Board Is Fighting to Stay Relevant

And we believe those words to be true: College Board is trying to be “more flexible.” College Board is trying to streamline its testing. It’s just that College Board’s motivation isn’t, well, beneficent. You see, the pandemic has greatly accelerated the test-optional movement. When so many elite universities this year declared that SAT or ACT scores would be “optional” in the admissions process, College Board found its long thriving business under threat. If these schools were going test-optional and ultimately chose to stay test-optional — as we anticipate many schools will choose to remain test-optional in a post-pandemic world — where does that leave the not-for-profit organization formed at the end of the nineteenth century? College Board would have to fight so as not to, well, go extinct!

College Board’s Elimination of SAT Subject Tests Promotes Their Other Business Line, AP Tests

The folks at College Board weren’t born yesterday. They saw the writing on the wall. They could see that SAT Subject Tests were becoming less and less relevant from a college admissions standpoint. Certain elite universities — like Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the California Institute of Technology — didn’t even allow students to submit SAT Subject Tests this year. These schools weren’t SAT Subject Test-optional. Rather, they were SAT Subject Test-blind. And so with this writing on the wall in mind, College Board has conceded the SAT Subject Test fight. Yet it’s not like College Board is just going to give up all this incoming business. No, College Board would never do such a thing. Rather, they’re going to promote their wildly successful AP program.

The Bottom Line: AP exams cost test-takers about $95 each. SAT Subject Tests cost test-takers about $26 each. College Board’s elimination of one longtime business line promotes another.

Last spring, College Board was able to offer its AP tests online for the first time — and we suspect they’ll be able to offer even more AP exams online in the future. Why? Because it serves their bottom line. Besides, AP exams cost test-takers about $95 each. SAT Subject Tests cost test-takers about $26 each. Need we do the math?

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