Fewer than 50 colleges require scores from the SAT subject tests for undergraduate admission. Those that do are among the more selective colleges.
Harvard has now announced it will no longer require scores form subject tests (May, 2014).
There is a cost to SAT subject texts. The registration fee is $24.50, and each test costs an additional fee, generally $13.00 per test, except language tests which use listening components cost $24.00 each. There are only 6 testing dates all in November, again, except for the language tests. These costs and the inflexible scheduling of test dates are already a barrier for some applicants. Harvard has decided to must take these barriers away.
The change is aimed at high-achieving minority students. Such students cannot always afford to take additional tests. The application process can be expensive in itself. Minority students are also not as wisely advised and informed about taking these additional tests, and they may not have the time for these tests because of home or work obligations.
In 2013, the University of California stopped requiring SAT subjects test scores. This hit the test market hard and reduced the call for subject tests by about a third. Other schools like Georgetown and the University of Virginia are easing the subject test requirement.
But, the change is not exactly in full force. Some of these schools still recommend the tests; others ask for a written explanation for not taking the test. Even Harvard has changed its application language from required to normally required, indicating if for financial hardship reasons or student preference they will accept applications without the scores.
Does all this mean SAT subject tests are on their way out? The jury is still out. It is believed higher-income, competitive college applicants will continue to take them, but if more colleges loosen their requirement, the SAT subject tests could disappear.