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College Board Eliminates SAT Subject Tests and SAT Essay

The College Board announced Tuesday that it will no longer be offering SAT Subject Tests as well as the “optional” SAT Essay section. In the United States, Subject Tests will be discontinued immediately, and students who had previously signed up for tests will receive a refund. Outside the United States, students will still be able to take subject tests in May and June of this year before the tests are discontinued, as some international schools are more heavily dependent on Subject Tests in their admissions calculus. The SAT Essay will be offered worldwide on the May and June exams and then discontinued after.

Both the subject tests and the essay have had diminishing relevance for college admissions over the last few years, so the College Board is simply getting ahead of what was an inevitable outcome. Students who already registered for the SAT essay can cancel it immediately, as it will have no effect on admissions. However, doing so may result in having to choose a new test center, so it may be in students’ best interests to keep the essay if removing it means choosing a new test center that is significantly farther away or, perhaps, not testing on that test date.  (If you have any questions regarding changing test registrations, please do not hesitate to email us!)

Impact for U.S. Students: Students should immediately stop studying for both Subject Tests and the SAT Essay and switch their focus to AP testing. One of the reasons the College Board made this decision was to put more of an emphasis on AP testing, and colleges will likely follow suit in placing higher weight on AP scores, beginning with Fall 2021 applications.

Impact for International Students: Students who are still interested in taking these tests, or who can score highly on them without much preparation, should sign up for Subject Tests as soon as possible. Many schools (especially many outside of the United States) currently recommend Subject Tests for international students, though we do expect that to change. While we wait for those updates, students should do their best to take these tests and score well on them to be safe. As for US-based students, this will also place more emphasis on AP testing, if the student is able to take them.