SAT Subject Tests “Fading Away” As Admissions Requirement; Hundreds Of Thousands Fewer Exams Administered

for further information:                                                                
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
                   cell (239) 699-0468

 

for immediate release, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SAT SUBJECT TESTS “FADING AWAY” AS ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENT; HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS FEWER EXAMS ADMINISTERED AFTER MANY SELECTIVE SCHOOLS MAKE THEM OPTIONAL;
COLLEGE BOARD LOSES MILLIONS IN FEES FROM TEST-TAKER DECLINE

Fewer than a dozen U.S. colleges and universities now require all applicants to submit results from

SAT Subject Tests, according to a new review of admissions policies by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). In recent years Amherst, Barnard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, Haverford, Vassar and Williams all stopped asking students for scores from the hour-long exams. SAT Subject Tests, previously called “SAT II” exams and “Achievement Tests,” had once been a major component of the admissions process, particularly at the nation’s most competitive institutions.

Due to the move away from SAT Subject Test requirements, the number of students taking the exams has sharply declined. Since the University of California eliminated its Subject Test mandate earlier this decade, Subject Test registration nationally has dropped by 23%. In the high school class of 2011, 312,228 students took the exams. The number plunged to 241,329 for 2015 grads. Subject Test volumes have fallen even further in the past five years, slumping 26% from 813,803 in 2011 to 604,286 to 2015. During the same period, the number of students taking the ACT, which many schools accept in place of both the SAT and Subject Tests, increased 23%. 

FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer explained the trend: “Admissions offices have recognized that the SAT Subject Tests contribute to standardized exam overkill. Requiring them excluded many otherwise qualified applicants. University of California President Mark Yudof even called them ‘an unnecessary barrier’ to access. Schools also found that the tests did not significantly help forecast college performance.” The hour-long exams each cover a single topic, such as chemistry, world history, or Spanish. They are entirely multiple-choice.

Schaeffer added, “Independent research shows that high school grades are the best predictors of undergraduate success. The SAT Subject Tests, like other entrance exams, are simply not needed.” FairTest is the leader of the nation’s test-optional admissions movement. More than 860 bachelor-degree granting colleges and universities now will make admissions decisions about all or many applicants without regard to ACT or SAT scores. 

The sharp drop off in Subject Tests has cost their sponsor, the College Board, millions of dollars.  Subject Test registration is $26 plus an additional $20 for each exam taken. Surcharges for overseas students can double their payments. There are also extra fees for score reports and other services. FairTest estimates that the decline of more than 200,000 test takers has reduced College Board revenues by more than $6 million a year.

- - 3 0 - -