Earlier this month, the College Board did two things that I applaud:
- It decided to get rid of the essay portion of the exam.
- It has eliminated the Subject Test product line.
Frankly, I’m not mourning the elimination of the essay. First of all, it was the last part of the exam. After three grueling hours of tackling challenging reading and mathematics, the students were wiped out. Second of all, the essay did not test a skill that colleges and universities measure. If students are writing in-class essays, they know the topics they need to discuss. If they are writing research papers, they are editing them heavily (I hope). I hope that the ACT will decide to get rid of its essay as well.
I have mixed feelings about the Subject Tests. Part of me feels that they are antiquated. Subject Tests measured a more in-depth, standardized level of achievement of college prep courses. However, with the proliferation of Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams, advanced students show their readiness for college with these exams. So, the Subject Test has gone the way of the typewriter, the 8-track, and AOL: it served its purpose for its time.
Will the College Board revamp the SAT again, to include even more advanced mathematics? Will it offer an optional advanced math sub-test? Time will tell. The College Board treats the SAT like an organic creature, changing it based on the needs of the time.
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