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Student Voices: College Board’s Changes to the SAT

In late January, College Board announced that the optional essay section of the SAT test and SAT subject tests would be eliminated. What do you believe are the implications of these changes? How do you feel about these changes?


“I think standardized testing did have some issues, especially concerning student equity and the pressure that the SAT puts on students. AP exams are definitely more accessible for low-income students, which is one reason why this change is actually beneficial. In terms of pressure, I think that the changes may have made things worse because now AP tests are far more important and that’s what colleges are going to be looking at … Overall I think this is a good change that needed to be made [for] everyone and myself.” — Yuvraj Walia, 9

“The implications of eliminating the optional essay section of the SAT test and SAT subject tests is that while standardized testing is less emphasized in the college application process, it puts a lot more pressure on extracurricular activities and GPA. It can end up creating more barriers for students who aren’t always able to do many extracurricular activities that showcase their passions. I feel a bit nervous about these changes. as a freshman in high school, it definitely changes the way I thought high school would be in terms of testing. with the continuous changes, I feel more pressured to my absolute best in school, which can be stressful at times.” — Annika Singh, 9


“I think the removal of the SAT subject test just puts more emphasis on AP tests, which seems to be the opposite of what they’re trying to do by removing the subject tests. Personally, I haven’t taken many SAT subject tests yet, but since Mission offers a lot fewer AP courses and tests for self-study, I feel like it puts us at a disadvantage.” — Serena Cai, 10

“I generally believe standardized testing isn’t the best way to measure a student’s intellectual capability or knowledge about a certain subject, nor is it completely equitable. The elimination of the optional essay section of the SAT test and SAT subject tests at this time during the pandemic has a very unique effect since the classes of 2021 and 2022 have mostly gone test-optional. On college applications, focus has shifted away from scores to personal statements and supplements, as well as extracurriculars. The new decisions made by the College Board only amplify this shift in dynamic, which will prove to be beneficial to many, such as those who are unable to afford tutors or prep programs that tend to come at high costs. Esther Lau, 10


“In the short-term, universities will look for other ways to “holistically” review applicants. This will lead into the long-term implication that new tests will be developed… Accurately evaluating how well a person comprehends a subject is basically impossible by an hour-long written test or anything on that magnitude. I hope this will show parents that this is all arbitrary, but I have very low hopes for this. I’m just confused as to what colleges expect on my application later this year, so clearly I am disenchanted by this system.” — Titus Tsai, 11

“A lot of people had already spent a good amount of time studying for these tests, and it’s kind of surprising how quickly CollegeBoard decided these changes. For me, I had already started studying for the tests and setting aside time to prepare. Now that they’re cancelled, it feels a little like a shame to waste all that time and energy, but still, I feel somewhat relieved that I have one less thing to worry about during this time. I think this is going to change the college admissions process significantly, as students and parents begin putting less weight on testing.” — Tiffany Li, 11


“I think that it definitely eliminates another way to show colleges what you are good at it. If someone’s strong suit is essay writing or a different subject not on the SAT such as biology they won’t be able to show that through the SAT subject test or essay portion of the SAT. however, I also feel like it reduces stress because students won’t be under so much pressure to take as many subject tests as possible.” — Tejas Miryala, 12

“I definitely believe this is a necessary step in the direction of fairness for all college applicants. Even pre-COVID, the SAT was a window into a prevalent American wealth disparity due to underprivileged families not receiving the same practice and resources to prepare as their upper-class counterparts. With the logistical crisis of the COVID era, I believe the removal of these exams definitely will be beneficial to future generations of students by promoting equality.” — Kushal Chattopadhyay, 12

Cover graphic by Opinion Editor Aria Lakhmani

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