Update: SAT Subject Tests & SAT Optional Essay Eliminated

Earlier today, College Board announced a few changes leading into Spring 2021 and beyond.

  1. College Board is eliminating the SAT Subject Tests. For those who were planning on taking or are currently registered for a Subject Test in the US, their registration will be automatically canceled and refunded. 

  2. College Board is also eliminating the optional SAT essay (post June 2021 test dates). 

  3. College Board plans on creating “a more flexible SAT” that can be offered digitally. More information on these changes is expected later in Spring 2021. For Class of 2022, College Board is seeking to expand the number of opportunities for students to take the SAT.

Why these changes?

College Board says their discontinuation of the SAT essay and of the SAT Subject Tests is in effort to “[reduce] demands on students” and has been in the works for a while now. The pandemic and ensuing testing cancellations have sped up the transition to creating more accessible and adaptive standardized testing. Due to the expansion of AP exams and their role in measuring students’ college readiness over the past several years, the SAT Subject Tests have lost much of their significance. Similarly, the SAT Reading and Writing/Language sections are seen as a better method for measuring student writing performance than the hand-written essay. 

What does this mean for testers?

  • Emphasis on AP exams. One reason for eliminating the SAT Subject Tests is that they tested on similar course knowledge and skills for which the AP exams are built. AP exam scores have already been supplying college admissions with this subject-specific college readiness information. Without SAT Subject Tests, AP exam scores will be looked at even more so to evaluate students.

  • More changes to come. This announcement from College Board also shows that for future testers (most likely impacting Class of 2023 and beyond), the SAT will most likely look a bit different depending on how College Board decides to streamline and digitize this standardized test. (It will also be interesting to see how the ACT responds and if they decide to make similar changes in dropping the essay and digitizing.)

As the future of testing continues to adapt to these unprecedented times, we’ll continue to keep you updated! Please reach out to Pivot Tutors if you have any questions.

Back to blog