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Many of us use the new year as an opportunity to reflect and find avenues for future improvement, and it seems that College Board, the company behind the SAT, also felt that it was time for some changes. Below we’ve summarized the two major changes that College Board announced in mid-January and how these changes may affect students and families. College Board stated that both changes were previously planned to reduce demands (and stress!) on students, but the coronavirus pandemic accelerated their timelines.
1. College Board will no longer offer SAT Subject Tests.
The SAT Subject Tests, which were formerly called SAT II’s, will be retired for students in the United States. Students who were scheduled to take a Subject Test will have their registration canceled and fees refunded. College Board explained that many students already use AP Exams to demonstrate their knowledge in specific subject areas, so Subject Tests are now unnecessary.
Students who were planning on taking a Subject Test may be relieved to have one fewer test to think about. But the absence of Subject Tests also means that the SAT has become more important. Students should register early for a test prep class to make sure they’re well prepared for their test day. If students are looking for further ways to strengthen their applications, they should look for suggestions from individual colleges to which they’re applying.
If students have already taken Subject Tests, they should contact the colleges where they’ll be applying to check if the schools will accept the Subject Tests’ scores and how they’ll be factored into the overall application.
2. Beginning in July 2021, the SAT will not include the optional Essay section.
Since the most recent update to the SAT in 2016, students have had the option to take a 50-minute Essay section that was scored separately from their total SAT score out of 1600. College Board has decided to eliminate the Essay section, explaining that students have other opportunities to demonstrate their essay-writing abilities throughout their college application journey.
College Board hopes that students will have a more streamlined experience taking the SAT without the Essay section – all tests will now be 3 hours and 15 minutes long. Without the Essay to submit to colleges, students will have to focus more on the Reading and Writing sections to show their composition skills.
Students who have registered to take SAT with the Essay section through June 2021 can still do so, or they can cancel the Essay portion and pay no change fee. If students are unsure if they should take the Essay section in an upcoming SAT, they can research if their chosen colleges are still considering Essay section scores.
Note: The only place students may find the Essay section again is if it is required as part of an SAT taken during the school day. To find out if the Essay will be included on those test days, students can check with their schools.
Many students are using this time of social distancing to prepare for an upcoming SAT. Our live, virtual classes give students the tools they need to do their best on this important test. Register for a class today!