• Debra M Shively

College Board eliminates SAT Subject Tests and optional SAT essay


The College Board has announced they will eliminate the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT optional written essay. This means these two components will no longer be recommended nor required from individual US universities when applying for admission.


This is great news as it frees up time and is one less requirement students needed in the holistic admission process to US universities. Due to the pandemic many US universities have moved to test-optional meaning the SAT or ACT test results are not required in applying for admission.


The last of the Subject Tests will be offered in May and June 2021 at international testing centres only. Students who have already registered for the Subject Tests in May and June may either sit the tests as scheduled or contact the College Board to cancel the registration and receive a refund. Each US university will have their own updated testing policy regarding how they will review submitted Subject Tests in reviewing applications for admission. I advise consulting directly with the university in which you intend on applying to best understand their policy.


The optional SAT essay will continue to be offered for the March 2021 and May 2021 international testing dates. After this, the optional essay will be eliminated.


The College Board attributes their decision to eliminate these tests to ‘reducing and simplifying demands on students’.


In the same announcement the College Board stated their intention to move the SAT test from its hard copy format to a digital format (the ACT which is a competitor test is already in an online format). No roll out date has been confirmed for this.


The elimination of the Subject Tests and the optional SAT essay is welcomed news for students who are already stretched with their time and mental capacity due to challenging academic demands. The elimination of Subject Tests is a particular win for international students who had limited testing date opportunities. Admission to US universities will continue to be holistic including the SAT or ACT test. However, as the global pandemic continues into 2021 and SAT and ACT testing dates are disrupted, I anticipate many US universities will continue to be test-optional for the 2021-22 application cycle (current year 12 students). This means, the SAT or ACT test scores which are usually required as part of the application material are optional for students to submit. Each university will have their own policy as to if they are test-optional and I encourage you to check with individual universities and review their testing policy.

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