On Tuesday the 19th of January 2021, the College Board announced that they would discontinue the optional SAT essay and SAT subject tests.
According to representatives, the College Board made this decision to “reduce and simplify demands on the students”. They had decided to make this change in the near future anyway, but the pandemic accelerated the process.
However, before the pandemic even began, these two assessments were already losing influence: More and more schools have been choosing not to include the essay and subject tests as requirements. For example, Harvard University and the University of California deemed the essay scores unnecessary for admissions. Furthermore, Yale University stopped considering SAT subject tests scores in their admissions review.
There are a few reasons why these additional SAT assessments had become so unpopular:
- It is possible for the information gleaned by the essay and subject tests scores to be obtained in other ways: There is now a more diverse access to Advanced Placement courses in high schools; thus, subject tests are not really necessary for students to demonstrate what they know.
- Instead of in the essay, students can showcase their writing skills in the main SATs reading and writing portion.
- Many universities require applicants to submit a personal essay with application anyway, making the SAT essay redundant.
Following their announcement, the College Board has decided to provide students with two final SAT essay and subject tests opportunities in both May and June 2021. Those students registered for later dates will receive refunds for the assessments.
Going forward, the College Board is looking to ensure that the test can be “streamlined” and “digitally delivered”. With several universities scrapping the SAT this year due to decreased access to testing centres, they are trying to limit the pandemic’s impact on testing in the future.