SAT Subject Tests and Optional Essay Canceled

One of the most crucial aspects of college admissions is standardized testing. The emphasis on such pushes students to study for hours a day up until the test date, sometimes even going to SAT camps over the summer to increase their chances of a higher score or hiring a private tutor specifically for these purposes. 

The SAT is one of two standardized tests administered by College Board. Alongside the SAT are the optional essay portion and a multitude of “subject tests”, such as higher level math, U.S. history, biology, etc. However, on Wednesday, January 19th, College Board announced that they are no longer administering any subject tests nor the optional essay portion for 2021 in lieu of a development of a digital version of the SAT.

“Students currently registered for an upcoming Subject Test in the U.S. will automatically have their registration canceled and fees refunded,” the College Board website states, "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 decision to cancel the SAT Subject Tests was to reduce the demand on students, especially with continuing enrichment and development of AP courses, which College Board also offers. “Many colleges already use AP course participation and exam score as indicators of a student’s ability and interest in a particular subject area. And colleges also have access to information about student performance in key subject areas through their SAT scores, high school transcript, course selection, and other measures.” Simply put, other measures can be used to measure the aptitude of students. 

The cancellation of the optional essay portion is effective after June 2021 as to “streamline[sic] the process for students who have other, more relevant opportunities to show they can write an essay as part of the work they’re already doing on their path to college.”

While this may come as a relief for some and a panic for others, overall, these will not greatly affect the admissions process due to the multitude of other determinants and achievements students have to offer.