Word leaked out late yesterday that the College Board would no longer administer the SAT Subject Tests. Some of us referred to them as ‘SAT 2’ tests.
Given that in the past few years the number of colleges requiring Subject Tests had dwindled down to fewer than a dozen, this is not a surprising change, nor does it have a huge impact on the bigger picture of the testing environment.
College Board (which owns the SAT, subject tests, and the entire AP program) is also cancelling the essay portion of the SAT, effective immediately. The FAQ on the College Board website is here.
Here are a few questions we’ve heard from parents of 9th, 10th and 11th grade students, related to this announcement.
What does this mean for my 11th grade, Class of 2022 student? Should s/he still prep for the ACT or SAT?
> This announcement relates ONLY to the Subject Tests, and the elimination of the essay portion of the SAT. The regular SAT is still being offered. Many colleges went test-optional for the Class of 2021, because most of this year’s high school seniors didn’t have the ability to take the SAT or ACT before they submitted their college applications in the fall. Some colleges will continue being test-optional, which means they will consider test scores if you submit them, but they aren’t required. Some schools (but very few) are now test-blind, which means they will NOT consider test scores at all as part of their application process.
It’s very important, though, for parents and students to understand that colleges do not consider test scores to be a definitive indicator of intelligence or merit. They are one small piece of the puzzle as colleges build their class. This post has more on how college admission officers – the people who are deciding whether to admit you or not – feel and think about test scores.
Does this mean colleges will rely more on AP exam scores?
> No. Colleges almost never require AP exam scores for admission. Some (many) colleges give students college credit when they receive a score of 3 or higher on an AP exam, but keep in mind that getting college credit after you enroll is very different from the admission process. Admission officers are MUCH MORE INTERESTED in seeing you take rigorous courses and get good grades in those courses, than in your AP exam scores. We’ve always advised students this way: take the most rigorous courses you can take and still be successful. Colleges want to see you challenging yourself and doing well in those tough courses.
What if I’ve actually registered for Subject Tests?
> College Board will cancel your test registration and refund your money.
What if I’ve registered for the SAT with Essay?
> The Essay will still be available through the June SAT test date. However, nearly every college in the United States has indicated that they don’t care about the essay score. You can contact College Board and get a refund for the additional charge for the essay. And don’t worry – you’ll be writing lots of essays when you get to your actual applications!
But is this bad news for my super-smart, good-test-taking kiddo?
> Nope. It’s really not. Again – colleges don’t view testing the same way as you do. They see tests as a way that privileged students capitalize on that privilege – by hiring expensive tutors and attending fancy test prep classes. They don’t automatically think a student with an 800 on the Chemistry exam is ‘smarter’ than a student who didn’t take it, or that a student with a 1550 is ‘more intelligent’ than one with a 1200. YOU may, but they don’t. Refer back to this blog post about how college admission officers view test scores.
Should my 10th or 11th grader still take the SAT or ACT? And if so, when?
> We are advising most of our 10th and 11th grade students to still be prepared to take the SAT or ACT. Unless you know, 100%, that you’ll be applying to a list of colleges that absolutely don’t require or consider test scores, it’s better to be prepared.
As for when to take the exams, as soon as you’ve completed Alg 2, you have all the math you need to take the SAT or ACT. This post has more details on when and how to get started, and how to decide which exam to take.
If test scores aren’t an important part of the college admission process, then what DO colleges consider?
Magellan’s team of independent college counselors is trained to help families navigate the college admission process, and all of the twists and turns as things change. Every student’s process is just a little different, and therefore our advising is personalized to each student. If you feel like you need a little extra hand-holding or guidance (or if you need someone other than YOU to hold your child accountable as they prepare, explore and apply to college), feel free to give us a call. That’s what we do.