To the Class of 2022: Sincerely, The CollegeBoard

To the class of ’22 and beyond:

To the class of ’22 and beyond:

The 2020-21 college admissions process is well underway, and it appears that despite a near-universal test-optional policy, the world…hasn’t stopped spinning? That’s a surprise. Now, you students may be thinking, “Well, we’ve seen the process work under these circumstances—doesn’t this success suggest that it would be possible to transition away completely from standardized testing?” As the CollegeBoard, we’d like to formally ask that you stop thinking it's a possibility, or, god forbid, saying it is. Standardized test scores are an important, reliable predictor of future success in college and life. Regardless of the truth of that statement, we are deeply entrenched in the college process, and we ask those who challenge this highly corporatized aspect of American education to cease immediately.

It’s true, change is happening—you may have heard about our permanent decision to finally jettison both the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT Essay. We’re not bitter about the vindictive glee with which Gen Z took the news. Not at all. We’ll even admit that in hindsight, perhaps it was a bit unreasonable of us to evaluate students’ writing ability based on a passage produced in 50 minutes. But the SAT Reasoning Test itself is certainly worth preserving, even as several universities make, or consider making, a permanent transition to test-optional policies. Of course, the University of California’s board of regents unanimously voted to phase out the test entirely and the University of Chicago reported a consequential record enrollment of first-generation, low-income, and rural students due to test-optional policies. But no matter—we’ve got SAT Landscape (perfect for comparing neighborhoods based on our test scores and school data)! Clearly, we should be more objective in our methods and provide affordable, actually standardized testing conditions, but who can say no to $1.08 billion in revenue?

Furthermore, there’s no way eliminating testing could be more equitable because standardized testing is, fundamentally, an equalizer. Prior to the existence of an examination that could judge all applicants by the same metric, more often than not, it was familial and personal connections that opened doors to prestigious academic institutions. This was hardly fair, particularly to minorities and immigrants, and so an objective piece of admissions criteria—testing—began to level the playing field through a more merit-based system. See? We’ve helped minorities. Think about how cruel and unfair it would be to put all American students through a life-determining college process for which people of high socioeconomic status are disproportionately prepared. The disregard for equity would be absolutely tragic. Thank god we’ve avoided this issue entirely with the SAT and a $275 billion test prep industry.

The SAT Subject Tests and SAT Essay are off your plate, but you know what isn’t? The APs. In fact, APs may be even more important in proving yourself to college admissions offices now that Subject Tests are out of the picture. And if each AP test costs test-takers around $95, in comparison to the Subject Tests’ $25? Well, that’s just a happy accident for us.

We know you all have been simply wasting away from boredom this year, so we’ve done you the favor of providing a diversion through the most incomprehensible and ever-changing set of testing policies possible. Video cameras? Not anymore—Twitter bullied us out of the idea. The shortened tests from last year? Nope, we’ll return to full-length tests, because surely the circumstances haven’t forced many school districts to modify their curriculums and prioritize content from the 2020 versions. Last year, we made online testing platforms notoriously difficult for students with disabilities and special testing needs—and had foreign language testing unavailable on these platforms. With any luck, we’ll continue our trend of putting in (slightly below) the bare minimum of effort for our online testers. Better sign up if you haven’t yet, because ultimately, you know you have to go through us if you want to pursue higher education. Thank you, and mind the late registration fee!

Sincerely,

The CollegeBoard

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