College Board Eliminates SAT Essay, Discontinues SAT Subject Tests

By Huntington Learning Center

Attention, parents of high school students! There’s a big change coming to the college entrance exam prep world that affects your teens. 

On January 19, 2021, the College Board announced that it will discontinue the SAT Subject Tests as well as the optional Essay on the SAT.

For more detailed information, read below.

No More Essay on the SAT

The SAT Essay, which is optional, will be discontinued after the June 2021 administration of the SAT. Here’s some of the fine print:

  • Students who are registered for an upcoming SAT with the optional Essay will be able to test through June 2021, or they may cancel the Essay portion of the SAT for no change fee.
  • After June 2021, the SAT Essay will only be available where it is required as part of SAT School Day administration dates. Every school is different, so students are encouraged to check with schools about whether the Essay will still be available.

Does this mean that writing will no longer be measured on the SAT? Not exactly. The College Board has said that it will continue to measure writing and editing throughout other sections of the exam.

The reason for discontinuing the optional SAT Essay is that students have other opportunities to prove their writing abilities. In their words, “this change simply streamlines 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.”

SAT Subject Tests are gone 

The SAT Subject Tests will no longer be offered in the United States effective immediately. By eliminating these tests, the College Board hopes to reduce the demands on students. However, since the SAT Subject Tests are used internationally for a wider variety of purposes, they will be available for two more administrations outside of the United States: May and June 2021. In addition:

  • U.S. students who are registered for any SAT Subject Tests will automatically have their registrations cancelled and fees refunded.
  • For students attending a college that typically accepts or requires any SAT Subject Tests, it is recommended that they check the colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information about application policy changes.

An Enhanced Focus on AP Exams

The primary purpose behind SAT Subject Tests has always been to offer students an opportunity to exhibit certain subject-specific knowledge or offer up additional evidence of their strengths in certain areas. Since Advanced Placement tests are widely available, the College Board says that Subject Tests are simply no longer necessary. AP courses and exams fulfill this need and allow students to show their skills through challenging coursework (and exam scores in particular subject areas).

What Should Your Teen Do Now? 

If you have a college-bound high school student, it’s important that your teen prepares as much as possible for the SAT as well as any AP exams, as they are the best chance to display subject strengths outside his or her GPA. Higher test scores mean more college options.

Huntington can help. We’re up to speed on the latest changes to the SAT and how the elimination of the Essay Test might impact your teen. If writing is a strength, there are other ways your teen can highlight this, including the AP exam—and Huntington can help your teen prepare for AP exams too.

Call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN to find out more about our customized exam prep programs aimed to help students study effectively for these exams and to master skills covered in high school. By the time your teen is ready to apply to colleges, he or she will be armed with the best possible academic resume.