College Board & the SAT

Kavita Kar, Staff Writer

The College Board is a college preparatory company designed to provide metrics for students to present to colleges. College Board offers many college tools, including the SAT, AP Exams, the ACCUPLACER, and formerly SAT subject tests. As of Tuesday, July 19th, SAT subject tests will no longer be offered to students, and the SAT essay will be phased out by June 2021.
The SAT Subject tests used to serve as an avenue for students to demonstrate mastery in almost every subject from biology to German. This assessment was very rarely mandatory, and students were typically advised to pursue subject tests in their “strong subjects.”
The SAT Essay was a tool for colleges to understand how proficient students are as writers. As of 2019, 29 colleges across the nation required the essay, and many others strongly recommended it.
The College Board has boiled their rationale down to “We’re reducing demands on students. The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know.” This may well be part of a much larger movement to make the college admissions process fair for all students. More urgently, Collegeboard has cited the Coronavirus pandemic as the reason to “simplify demands on students.” Wheeler is uniquely affected by this issue, given that Wheeler offers AP classes, which prepare students for their corresponding AP exams in 25 subjects.

On one side of this issue lie students and admissions committees that used the SAT subject tests and the optional essay as another measure to assert students’ qualifications. Both the subject test and the essay were standardized measures of assessing a student’s abilities. Ms. Todoric, an English teacher at Wheeler, adds that “The essay was implemented so that children could express themselves better. This was a good idea because it was a practical test of what students, especially poor testers, knew about writing. It was disappointing to see it leave.” Emma Cassaza adds that “the subject tests were an effective indicator of students’ performances in their specializations.” For many students, the subject tests offered another chance at an AP exam that did not go well.
The second concern is that many students were caught by surprise at the announcement that the subject tests were leaving, effective immediately. Students like Maritza Cuevas and Janani Sundaram noted that many students had spent months preparing for subject tests.
A third concern was voiced by Eric Yao, a Wheeler alum, who suspects that “it’ll make the vetting process more extensive and time-consuming, these things should only benefit students, but it’s also possible colleges will increase prices of tuition for makeup for it.”

On the other side of this debate lie students who believe that standardized testing is flawed. Weston Bishop, another Wheeler alum, believes that the system of standardized testing is inherently flawed because “test scores are directly correlated to family income.” It has been noted that standardized testing can exacerbate inequity because many students cannot afford the resources to prepare for these tests. Anisha Haldar voices that removing testing was a positive change because colleges may not consider these tests, and students end up wasting money on them. The third reason students favor removing these tests is that “the pandemic has caused a significant increase in stress for students, and removing these tests is one method of alleviating that stress,” says Kareena Prasad, a Wheeler Student. The times are changing, and the necessity of standardized testing is being reconsidered. The pandemic has certainly accelerated many of these trends and has allowed students to present an application profile less testing-focused.