Important Information on SAT Changes

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by James C. Sherlock

The College Board released yesterday An Update on Reducing and Simplifying Demands on Students. The information is important to every college-bound high school student and their parents .

It is discontinuing the SAT Subject Tests and the optional SAT essay.

It will retain both:

  1. the basic two-part SAT with 800 possible points each for math and English reading and comprehension; and
  2. AP exams.

The College Board justified the eliminations on the grounds that the Subject Tests were declining in both use and utility to colleges and that more and more colleges found the essay unhelpful.

They also announced they are transitioning to digitally delivered tests. No more “pencils down.”

And, finally, the College Board is making special provisions for students in the high school Class of 2022.

Subject tests

An announcement in the press release about Subject Tests:

We are no longer offering the Subject Tests in the U.S. Students in the U.S. will automatically have their registrations canceled and receive a refund. Because Subject Tests are used internationally for a wider variety of purposes, we will provide two more administrations in May and June of 2021 for students in international locations. International students can call Customer Service to cancel their registration for a full refund if they no longer want to take Subject Tests.

We’ve reached out to our member colleges, and they will decide whether and how to consider students’ Subject Test scores. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies.

Optional SAT essay

On discontinuing the optional SAT Essay:

This decision recognizes that there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing. At the same time, writing remains essential to college readiness, and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills. The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language tests are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT. Students can take the SAT with Essay through the June 2021 SAT administration.

After June 2021, the Essay will only be available in states where it’s required for SAT School Day administrations for accountability purposes. Students registered for the SAT with Essay this spring can cancel the Essay portion at any time, free of charge.

Digitally delivered tests

Third, they announced that they are transitioning to digitally delivered tests:

“we are investing in a more flexible SAT—a streamlined, digitally delivered test that meets the evolving needs of students and higher education.”

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being innovative and adaptive to what lies ahead. We are committed to making the SAT a more flexible tool, and we are making substantial investments to do so. We’re consulting with our members in K–12 and higher education and will have more to share about that work later this spring.

High School Class of 2022

There’s still a clear demand from students to take the SAT as a way to show their strengths to colleges. Most immediately, we’re working to provide as many opportunities as possible for students in the class of 2022 to take the SAT this year, including by:

  • Allocating seats that would have gone to students taking Subject Tests to students who want to take the SAT.
  • Being prepared to expand capacity for existing administrations and add administrations in the fall if the pandemic continues to impact testing this spring.