With Subject Tests Out, How Will AP Scores Factor In College Admissions?

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

In a January 19 webinar entitled “An Update on Simplifying Our Work,” College Board CEO David Coleman announced the cancellation of SAT Subject Tests.

  • SAT Subject Tests are immediately canceled (in the USA). They’ll be offered in May/June internationally, but American registrations for May/June will be canceled (thereby opening more seats for SAT testers on those dates)

As Subject Tests sunset, many of you have asked us what will this mean for the role of Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

The Past & Future of AP Exams

AP exams have been offered since 1955, and since those modest days of slightly over 2,000 tests administered, the program has grown to over 5M tests administered in 2019-20 and from 130 colleges and universities accepting them to now well over 4,000.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the top criteria for college admissions in 2019 were:

  • Grades in all courses
  • The rigor of curriculum
  • Test scores (ACT/SAT)

AP exams are one of several valuable indices to curriculum rigor, and the trend that 96 of the top 100 schools in the US consider students’ AP scores as a part of the admissions process supports this perspective.

With the elimination of Subject Tests, the AP exams now grow perhaps more relevant as tests to demonstrate student proficiency in academic subjects. For years, they have provided students the opportunity to earn college credits; in addition, colleges and universities like NYU have trended towards accepting AP exams in lieu of SAT or ACT exams for college admissions.

We expect given these trends that we will see AP exams occupy a growing place of relevance in indicating to colleges and universities that 1) students are prepared to perform at a college-ready level of rigor; and 2) that—in schools that offer AP curriculum—students have chosen to take on the most rigorous course work available.

Starting in May, College Board has created several testing timelines to ensure students have multiple ways to access the tests and demonstrate the cumulative efforts of their preparation.

Please feel free to reach out to your director for more information on AP exams, AP Preparation, and/or next steps.

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

Matthew Pietrafetta

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