Commentary: Is it best for the SAT subject tests to be eliminated?

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Maryam Mahmood

With the elimination of SAT subject tests, many students wonder how the admissions process will change.

On Tuesday, January 19th the College Board announced that they are “no longer offering SAT subject tests in the U.S.” 

Additionally, they will eliminate the standardized SAT optional essay. 

According to the article “College Board scraps SAT subject tests and optional essay” the reasoning behind this recent decision is that the “expanded reach” in knowledge coupled with the wide variety of skills that Advanced Placement (AP) tests offer outweigh those of SAT subject tests. Thus SAT subject tests “are no longer necessary” to demonstrate students’ mastery in various subject areas. 

For some Granite Bay High students this will be a cause for celebration if they tend to do poorly on standardized tests nor find the need to invest extra time into studying for these additional examinations. 

On the other hand, some students might find this to be unfortunate news since they now view the time they spent studying for these exams as a waste or were already registered and can no longer have the opportunity to demonstrate their investment into these tests. 

However that only applies to students who have the resources to be well prepared for these examinations. Outside of GBHS, that may not be the reality for most high school students. 

Some GBHS students may also attempt to take on more extracurricular activities to compensate for the lack of standardized test scores in order to amplify their college applications. 

The discontinuation of these important exams can lead to the shift of “strong candidate material” being more heavily based on extracurricular activities that relate to a particular future occupation. 

Unfortunately during a pandemic, participating in extracurricular activities related to a future career is easier said than done. Not knowing a particular field of study can additionally place students at a new disadvantage. 

Unfortunately during a pandemic, participating in extracurricular activities related to a future career is easier said than done.”

— Maryam Mahmood

I do agree that AP tests assess a more broad area of skill in students’ overall learning of a particular subject, however some schools do not offer many AP classes and, in turn, those students will be placed at another disadvantage. 

Fortunately, Granite Bay High School offers a wide variety of AP classes compared to other states in the country.  

GBHS offers 20 Advanced Placement courses. In California, about 13 AP classes on average are offered at schools. In New York, the average amount of AP classes offered at private high schools is 11. In Texas, the average amount of offered AP classes is four. 

The amount of AP classes one takes and how well those students perform in those courses is a factor that the college admissions team pays close attention to when determining their incoming freshmen class. Consequently, completely eliminating the SAT subject tests is not fair to the students who did not have access to many AP courses.

I have mixed feelings about the recent SAT subject test decision and I recognize both sides of the argument. Some students will be ecstatic about the ruling and others not so much. 

What I do know for certain is that GBHS does prepare students well for higher levels of education, whether it be until undergraduate or graduate studies. 

No matter what you may write on your college applications, you will be accepted somewhere even if it is without the SAT subject tests and essay. 

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