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BREAKING NEWS: Subject Tests and SAT Essay Have Been Eliminated



This morning the College Board made two big announcements in the world of college admissions: for students in the U.S., both the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT essay writing section will be discontinued.  At International College Counselors, we’ve been hearing rumors for a while, and today College Board made it official.

There were 20 Subject Tests in five areas – math, English, science, history, and languages. Some colleges used the scores for admissions purposes. Georgetown, for example, recommended the submission of three SAT Subject Tests. Other colleges used the scores for placement purposes; students might have been able to opt out of a language or be placed into a higher-level class based on their score. For the most part, many colleges didn’t use them at all. Any U.S. student who has already registered for Subject Tests will automatically have their registration cancelled and will receive a refund. For our international students, the May and June 2021 Subject Tests will remain in place.

ICC’s Take:

Who wins? For the majority of our students, the SAT Subject Tests caused a great deal of stress. Especially during the pandemic, students were concerned about finding a seat to take the Subject Tests. Additionally, students taking AP classes saw the Subject Tests redundant to the AP tests. Eliminating the Subject Tests will simplify the college application process.

Who loses? Homeschool students, international students, U.S. students wanting to study internationally, and students in schools that don’t have an extensive AP curriculum will be left with a void. College Board suggests that these students take their AP exams. However, AP exams are administered in a student’s school during the school day, and students who do not attend a school that administers the tests typically do not have access to sit for their exam. We will have to wait and see what the solution will be for these students. Additionally, some students are amazing test takers. We always encouraged our students to send in strong scores as an enhancement to their application and to highlight their strengths.

The other big announcement is that College Board is discontinuing the optional SAT Essay. Students can still take the SAT with Essay through the June 2021 SAT administration. If you are registered for the SAT with Essay this spring, you can cancel the Essay portion for free.

ICC’s Take:

Who wins? The SAT Essay had a lot of problems. Many colleges did not find the essay scores useful or necessary for admissions. As a result, many colleges stopped considering the essay in the admissions process. However, students still felt obligated to sit for the 50-minute essay even when colleges didn’t consider them. Now, students will no longer have to worry about this added stress.

Who loses? The elimination of the SAT Essay hurts those students who are good technical writers. Taking the SAT Essay in a controlled environment showed that the work was theirs and that they could write under pressure and without assistance.

There will be more news forthcoming. Should you have any immediate questions about the SAT Subject Tests or the SAT Essay, please contact us at 1-954-414-9986 or [email protected].