Higher education and standardized testing titan the College Board announced on Tuesday, Jan. 19 that it would be phasing out its optional SAT Essay and SAT Subject Tests for U.S. students. The discontinuation is an acceleration of a plan to simplify the process for students.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems for the College Board, shutting down SAT testing centers around the country and offering refunds to students who did not want to take AP tests online. For one December testing date, 124,000 out of 383,000 registered students were unable to test due to COVID-19 health concerns. 

Many universities, including Clemson University, adopted a test-optional policy for the 2021 admission cycle. Citing the challenges that COVID-19 has created for many prospective students, Clemson University reassures applicants that not having standardized test scores will not put them at a direct disadvantage for admission. 

"We are continuing to monitor the situation surrounding the pandemic and access to testing, but have not made any test optional policy decisions for the 2022 academic year," explained Amber Padgett, assistant director of communications for undergraduate admissions. "In terms of the future of us being test optional, we have really tried to make the test score part of the admissions process less complex so that it promotes access."

The Clemson Honors College has also adopted the university-wide test-optional admissions policy. The Honors College, which boasts an average SAT score of 1500 for a typical student in the program, accepts just under 10% of first-year students.  

The Tiger reached out to the Clemson Honors College for a statement on the elimination of these tests. Dr. William Lasser, director of the Clemson Honors College, said that they are still in the early planning stages of the 2022 admissions cycle and have not decided on a policy regarding standardized test scores.

Eliminating these two components of the SAT follows the decision of the University of California to end the use of SAT and ACT tests for admission. In recent years, the College Board has come under scrutiny for being biased against underprivileged students, along with their ironic “not-for-profit” label. A regular SAT costs $52, while the SAT with Essay used to cost $68. Each SAT Subject Test used to cost $26, and each AP test costs $95. 

As Clemson students, we likely took some form of standardized tests to get where we are today. Some took the test only once. Some of us took it two, three or maybe even four times. In the end, scores don’t define our successes in life.

This article was updated on Jan. 28 to include comment from University Admissions.

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