The College Board Eliminates SAT Subject Tests and Optional SAT Essay

The College Board announced on January 19, 2021, that it will discontinue administering the SAT Subject Tests and the optional essay section on the SAT, changing the standardized testing calculus for many college-bound students.

The SAT Subject Tests offered students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge in certain subjects on a standardized scale. While Subject Tests waned in popularity in recent years, they were still a key part of the admission landscape for applicants to Georgetown, Ivy League schools, MIT, and many highly selective STEM colleges and programs. In their place, the College Board stated it will further emphasize its Advanced Placement tests, based on their widespread availability.

Numbers released by the College Board show a steady decline in SAT Subject Test popularity in the past decade. In 2011, 312,000 students took Subject Tests, but by 2017, only 219,000 students took them. As the number of test-takers dropped, the average scores increased, especially on certain tests, — discouraging applicants from taking Math Level 2, Chemistry, and other challenging exams.  That, in turn, led to fewer colleges requesting the scores, and a further decline in test-takers.

Additionally, the College Board announced that the SAT Essay will no longer be offered after June 2021. Many insiders expect the ACT to drop its optional essay before long.  Future changes to digitize and possibly slow the pace of both entrance exams may be forthcoming.