Originally Posted: Mar 10, 2021
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2021
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.
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 (May 8, 2021). Your registration will be automatically canceled, and you’ll receive a full refund. However, international students will have two more opportunities to take Subject Tests: May 8 and June 5. 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.
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 What Do Colleges Want in an Applicant? to see what you can focus on instead.