Is the SAT Dead?

Among the long list of routines and practices disrupted by COVID-19, the validity of standardized testing is also being questioned. In light of this, the College Board discontinued the SAT essay and subject tests.

Frances Carlson, Co-Managing & Visual Content Manager & Features Editor

Frances Carlson

For many high school students, the prospect of waking up one day and being told that their SAT or ACT scores are no longer required for college applications might be a very stress-relieving concept.

Whether it be colleges going test-optional or the College Board discontinuing the SAT essay and subject tests, this fantasy is a reality, to some extent, due to COVID-19.

Individual testing centers and local health guidelines dictate the possibility, of in-person testing. This means that the testing availability for students changes depending on their area.

With such inconsistencies in testing opportunities, virtually all colleges and universities decided to go completely test-optional for the class of 2021.

As standardized testing and Advanced Placement courses experience increasing opposition, COVID-19 and the lack of testing established an opportune time for colleges to experiment and decipher how crucial test scores really are to the application process.

These patterns are already continuing into the class of 2022, as Boston University, Hamilton College and Northeastern University, among others, have all gone test optional for the class of 2022. In addition, the UC system suspended their testing requirements until 2024, and plan to have their own test in place by 2025.

“It’s a really good feeling to have that choice. Not everyone is a very good test-taker, so I’m glad schools are starting to leave up the option even if it’s because of COVID,” junior Harrison Jones said.

On the other hand, some are frustrated with these decisions. “After having heard that schools are now test optional and essays aren’t required, I just feel like it’s stupid. After all the time that I’ve spent literally for a year practicing for the test, preparing and tutoring for hours on end each week; it just feels like it’s going nowhere,” junior Mike Janey said.

Many educators are starting to question the validity not only of standardized tests, but also of letter grades. With this new way of thinking, many wonder if colleges will ever go back to requiring SAT or ACT scores at all.

Following this type of thinking, the College Board canceled the SAT essay and subject tests as of Jan. 19.

“Since the essay and subject tests have been removed from the SAT, I am worried that colleges will not have enough accurate information to admit students,” junior Sofia Anderson said.

For others, the essay affords them self expression. “It’s a bummer because the only thing I was feeling good about was the essay, because I would have more creative freedom and more room to be authentic, but now that it’s gone. It’s all weathered down to this one, standardized exam that does not show any individuality,” junior Lily Connor said.

While this is in no way an end to the SAT as a whole, it is an indication that the College Board is trying to adapt to new, innovative thinking surrounding education.

The College Board website states that this decision is aimed to “reduce demands on students,” and that goal may continue to develop in various ways.