College Board Discontinues the SAT Essay and SAT Subject Tests

Katriona Page, Contents/Copy Editor

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the College Board announced that they have discontinued SAT Subject Tests, and plan to discontinue the essay portion of the SAT after the June 2021 administration as well. 

In a statement, the College Board noted that “the pandemic accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.” 

The College Board added that this move makes it easier for them to create an online version of the SAT, something they tried to do last year but could not. 

Defending their decision, the College Board said that SAT subject tests, which used to be a requirement for admission at many schools, were no longer necessary because of the wider availability of Advanced Placement tests. Additionally, the College Board deemed that the SAT essay — already optional prior to the decision — was unnecessary due to the many ways available for students to demonstrate their writing abilities. 

The administration of the SAT in the fall and spring of 2020 was complicated by COVID-19, as many test centers operated at significantly reduced capacity or could not operate at all; according to the Washington Post, only 900,000 of the 2.2 million students who applied to take the SAT on a weekend in 2020 actually sat for the test.

The news comes after multiple colleges and universities announced they would go permanently or temporarily test-optional — as in, prospective students would no longer need to submit an ACT or SAT score. This includes the University of California system, one of the largest in the country. While COVID-19 motivated many of these announcements, they reflect a movement that was gaining steam prior to the pandemic, with more and more institutions beginning to question the validity and usefulness of test scores as a metric for admission.