The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes in the college admission process, including colleges going test-optional for the class of 2021. For example, many students who planned on taking parts of the SAT in 2020 were unable to do so due to the closure of test centers.
On Tuesday, January 19th the College Board announced that it will be cancelling the SAT Subject Tests, additional exams allowing students to retake a subject on the SAT without retaking the entire exam, and the SAT Essay Test, an often optional test with an added writing portion.
The board also announced that they will be creating a “more flexible SAT - a streamlined digitally delivered test.” The board did not release additional details on the SAT.
According to the College Board, the changes are being made to “meet the evolving needs of students and higher education.” There is an overall decreasing demand on the SAT Essay and SAT Subject Tests, as they are no longer required by most colleges.
Students who are currently registered, or plan to register, for an upcoming SAT with Essay will still be able to test through the June 2021 administration. Students who prefer to cancel the optional Essay portion of their SAT can do so in their online account, with no change fees, until the registration deadline.
The College Board states that, “writing remains essential to college readiness and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills, but there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing, and the SAT will continue to measure writing throughout the test. The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language sections are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT.”
Students who are currently registered for an upcoming SAT Subject Test in the U.S. will automatically have their registration cancelled and fees refunded. But since the SAT Subject Tests have greater impact for international students, students who are currently registered for, or plan to register for, an upcoming Subject Test outside the U.S. can still test through the June 2021 administration.
The main alternative to the SAT Subject Tests will be AP tests, which can showcase expertise in a subject area on a national, standardized scale similar to Subject Tests. Many colleges already use AP course participation and exam score as indicators of a student’s ability and interest in a particular subject area.
More updates regarding the SAT digital plans will be released soon. However, it is expected that the SAT itself will now carry more weight than before.