University to require only two SAT subject tests rather than previous three

Students applying to Yale will now only have to submit scores for two, not three, SAT subject tests, the admissions office announced today.

Since the introduction of the writing section to the SAT I test in March 2005, the College Board, which administers the SAT, has ceased to offer the SAT Writing subject test. Because Yale and many other schools had previously required the writing test as one of the three mandated scores, the University’s decision merely reflects this change and not any shift in attitude towards standardized testing, Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said. College Board representatives said Yale’s announcement comes on the heels of similar decisions at many other institutions.

Brenzel said Yale has been considering changing the requirement since the first implementation of the new SAT I two years ago. This was an opportunity to improve the application process for students while still allowing the admissions office to gather all pertinent data, he said.

“We are trying, where possible, to sustain the amount of information we receive while lifting the burden on students,” Brenzel said. “We felt this was an area in which we could accomplish that objective.”

Subject tests, previously called SAT II Subject Tests, assess students’ command of particular subject areas, including English literature, chemistry and U.S. history.

Brian O’Reilly, executive director of SAT information services at the College Board, said the former SAT II Writing subject test and the current SAT I Writing section evaluate students for the same skills. They are extremely similar, he said, aside from slight differences in time allotted, the essay prompt and multiple-choice questions.

“Five years ago, nearly all colleges that required subject tests required three, and one of those three was writing,” O’Reilly said. “When the writing test was moved to the SAT I in March 2005, it was no longer offered as a subject test, and some colleges at that point, not including Yale but many others, changed their subject test requirement to the two tests they had been getting in addition to writing.”

The College Board offers 20 SAT subject tests. The writing section of the SAT I tests for grammar, usage and word choice.

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