In January of 2021, the College Board announced the elimination of the SAT Essay and SAT Subject Tests. These portions of the SAT were always optional, so the overall makeup of the General SAT remains the same. Read on to learn more about these SAT test changes, what they mean for your SAT score, and what they mean for your college applications.
COLLEGE BOARD CANCELS SAT SUBJECT TESTS
The decision to permanently cancel SAT Subject Tests comes as AP tests are becoming more widely available than ever. It was determined that having both tests was redundant, as students can show their knowledge of a certain subject by taking an advanced placement course and the corresponding test (or, in some cases, studying for and taking an AP test without enrollment in the corresponding course).
There are 38 AP Exams in 7 subject areas, compared to the 20 SAT Subject Tests in 5 subject areas that used to be offered. Eliminating SAT Subject Tests places less stress on students as they prove excellence in whatever subjects interest them through participation in AP courses and exams.
UPDATE: MAY/JUNE 2021 SAT SUBJECT TESTS CANCELLED
If you’re a student signed up for the May/June 2021 SAT Subject Tests in the United States, your registration will be cancelled and you’ll be refunded. If you’re outside the United States, your final SAT Subject Test administration is the May/June 2021 administration.
COLLEGE BOARD CANCELS OPTIONAL SAT ESSAY
The elimination of the Optional SAT Essay streamlines the college application and admissions process. Colleges have plenty of other opportunities to review students’ writing skills, including writing samples, personal statements and application essays, and some AP exams. The SAT also continues to test writing skills in the Reading & Writing sections of the test without requiring the Essay.
UPDATE: JUNE 2021 SAT ESSAY STILL OPTIONAL
The June 2021 SAT will be the last administration to include the SAT Essay. If you are signed up for the SAT Essay in June but no longer wish to take it, you can cancel the essay portion of the test for free in your online account until the registration deadline.
WILL COLLEGES STILL ACCEPT SAT ESSAY AND SUBJECT TEST SCORES?
If you’ve already taken the SAT Essay or SAT Subject Tests and plan to submit your scores with college applications in the future, you should check with the schools to which you’re applying to see if they’ll still accept your scores.
TEST CHANGE IMPACTS ON SAT SCORING
These SAT changes will not change the way your SAT score is calculated. Both the SAT Essay and SAT Subject Tests were previously optional portions of the test with separately-reported scores. Now, you will only receive Math and Reading & Writing scores, each reported on a scale of 200-800 in ten point increments.
Although the SAT scoring itself remains the same, some students may find that the elimination of the SAT Essay may alter their overall performance in different ways. If you prefer to outline and write essays slowly and thoughtfully, for example, the elimination of the SAT Essay may work in your favor. Instead of spending time and energy practicing a writing method that doesn’t suit your talents, you can focus your attention on other parts of the SAT that may do more to boost your overall score.
If you’re a strong writer under pressure, the elimination of the SAT Essay may be a disappointment to you. However, your writing skills will still help you score well on the Reading and Writing & Language sections of the SAT.
Students who would have spent considerable time and effort preparing for SAT Subject Tests, perhaps especially Math and English, may have expected that their preparation would also have improved their performance on the General SAT Math and Reading & Writing sections. In the absence of SAT Subject Tests, it’s important to come up with a study plan that will prepare you for the General SAT.
THE FUTURE OF THE SAT: 2021 AND BEYOND
Since some schools (including most Ivy League universities) have waived the SAT/ACT requirements for those submitting applications during the COVID-19 pandemic, rumors have started to surface that the SAT requirement will soon be permanently eliminated everywhere. Whether or not these rumors are true, now is not the time to write off the SAT. Until you receive more information from the College Board or from the schools to which you’re applying, don’t assume that the SAT/ACT requirement has been permanently eliminated. It’s better to take the SAT and be prepared than to not take it and have your college options limited. And keep in mind that while some universities don’t require the SAT/ACT, either temporarily or permanently, they will often still consider any scores you send in as part of your application. Your scores can still have a positive effect on your chances for admission, whether or not they are required by the university for consideration.
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