4 Things to Know About Terminated SAT Subject Tests

The College Board has decided to eliminate SAT Subject Tests and the Essay. Read on to find out why and what you can do now to supplement your applications.

The College Board announced on January 19 that it would stop offering SAT Subject Tests and the optional SAT Essay. High school students preparing their college applications may be wondering what it means: Should you still submit your scores if you’ve already taken the tests? What if you registered but haven’t taken the test yet? What are your options if you were planning on using Subject Tests or the Essay section to boost your college applications? Here’s everything you need to know about this recent decision to eliminate these aspects of the SAT.

1. Why SAT Subject Tests were eliminated

One of the official reasons the College Board gave for dropping SAT Subject Tests was “reducing demands on students.” Due to the pandemic, students have struggled to find open testing centers where they could take the tests. By eliminating SAT Subject Tests, students don’t need to worry about preparing for yet another exam. The College Board also said that with the rise in popularity of Advanced Placement (AP) exams, they’ll replace SAT Subject Tests, which were becoming less popular anyway. In previous admission cycles, some schools—like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—required at least two Subject Tests; however, it, like all other universities, had dropped this requirement in an attempt to make the admission process more accessible for students. 

Related: The Future of the SAT and ACT During COVID-19

2. SAT Subject Tests are no longer available in the US

Students in the US can no longer take SAT Subject Tests effective immediately, even if they registered for the next SAT Subject Test date. Your registration will be automatically canceled, and you’ll receive a full refund. However, international students did have two more opportunities to take Subject Tests in May and June. Those students can receive a refund if they decide they don’t want to take the test anymore.

3. You can still submit already completed scores

Any student who’s already taken an SAT Subject Test can still submit their scores to colleges and universities. However, at this time, it’s still unclear how much weight these scores will be given in the admission decision. Because not every student had the opportunity to take exams, the importance of standardized tests will likely greatly diminish this year, as evidenced by the many colleges that have gone test-optional or test-blind during the pandemic.

4. What you can do instead of SAT Subject Tests

Many students—especially those applying to highly competitive schools or programs, like direct medical programs—might be wondering how they can fill this gap in their academic profile. In the past, students have used SAT Subject Tests as an alternative to AP exams or to complement their résumé. Now that this aspect of the admission process has been eliminated, schools will likely emphasize AP Test scores more heavily. Current AP students should work extra hard to get top grades on their final AP exams, and future AP students should give some serious thought to which AP courses will benefit them most. 

Related: How to Be a Competitive College Applicant

It’s crucial to remember that tests and grades are only one part of a holistic college admission process. Students should still focus on building a strong résumé with hands-on and unique learning experiences to help showcase their interests and talents in a particular field. Good luck in your college admission journey!

If you’re worried that the absence of SAT Subject Tests might hinder your applications, check out You're an Ideal Applicant! Now It's Time to Show Colleges Why to see what you can focus on instead.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Lindsey Conger

Lindsey Conger

Lindsey Conger is a college counselor and tutor at Moon Prep.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Joan Franklin

Joan Franklin


I love this website and have been using it for years with my students. I originally bought products through Wintergreen Orchard House and appreciated having key facts at my fingertips when advising students. Your site is easy to access and offers a wide array of topics I need as a busy college counselor.



High School Class of 2019

My college search began at CollegeXpress. Due to this helpful tool, I was able to gather a lot of information to guide my college planning decisions. Through CollegeXpress, I was also able to apply to several scholarships to help pay for my tuition. I would definitely recommend this website to anyone who wants to explore colleges and get more information from admission experts, counselors, and real students.

Maya Ingraham

Maya Ingraham

October 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has given me more confidence in my college process. With easy-to-access resources and guidance such as the CX Weekly Roundup, I have been able to find the best colleges for me. Most importantly, there’s a surplus of scholarship opportunities for every student to support their education.

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Thiel College

Greenville, PA

Belmont University

Nashville, TN

Bryant University

Smithfield, RI