After quite an eventful 2020, the start of the new year also brought new changes with itself. While colleges decided to keep standardized testing optional for 2020-21 applicants, in an unprecedented move, College Board in January 2021 decided to do away with the SAT Subject Test and the optional essay altogether!
What does this mean, and how does it affect your US Admissions Planning?
Simply put, if you are a student in the USA, you can no longer take the SAT Subject Test. If you had already registered for the test on May 8, 2021, then College Board will refund you in full. However, if you are a student outside of the US, you still have two chances to take the Subject SATs- on May 8 and June 5. Post these dates, you will no longer be able to take the Subject SATs. College Board took this decision based on two factors- reducing the demands that universities put on students, and due to the widespread availability of the Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on, we saw how SATs all around the world were cancelled or rescheduled. Universities even made the tests optional for the candidates. By removing the Subject SATs altogether, College Board aims to reduce extra demands and requirements on students that universities tend to make mandatory.
Secondly, the past few years have seen a rise in the number of AP attempts by students not just in the USA, but also worldwide. The general trend in the recent years amongst the students applying to the US for their undergraduate studies has been more inclined towards APs and lesser towards Subject SATs. Many universities too have been easing off the load by not making Subject SATs a big factor in the admissions process (as it used to be a few years ago).
Okay, so what does it mean for me, a 2021-22 applicant who was preparing and registered for Subject SAT?
If you’re in the US, your Subject SATs will be cancelled and you’ll receive a full refund. However, if you’re an international student, you can still give the Subject SAT on May 8 and June 5 (if you had registered for them). If you wish to not sit for it, you can apply for a refund.
Will it affect my college application?
Since the tests are no longer valid, they won’t affect your college application at all. Ivy League applications required Subject SATs as almost a “mandatory requirement”, so this is one thing less in your application. Make sure to score well in your high school, as the transcripts are the most important documents which your application depends upon.
I have already taken the Subject SATs. Is that all useless now?
You can still send your scores if you wish. College Board has given Universities the autonomy to decide whether or not they would want to assess scores for those who have already attempted Subject SATs. In all likelihood, you’ll still be able to send it to universities, and while it won’t give you any actual advantage over others who haven’t taken the test, they will definitely strengthen your application.
So, in conclusion, you should focus on strengthening your academics and your extracurriculars. You should also look into attempting AP exams, especially if you are engaged in Ivy League Prep. Nonetheless, the move can be seen as bittersweet but shows the attitude of universities and testing authorities towards standardized tests.