College Board no longer offering SAT Essay, Subject Tests


Photo by Neha Doppalapudi

The College Board is no longer offering SAT Subject Tests and is going to stop administering the optional SAT Essay. The Subject Tests, the exams that test a particular subject, such as U.S. History, Chemistry, Literature, etc., are no longer part of the College Board company – effective immediately in the United States. The optional Essay portion, the timed portion of the SAT test where students are asked to compose a long response to a given prompt, will be gone by the June 2021 administration.

Students in the U.S. currently registered for an upcoming Subject Test will have their registration canceled and fees refunded automatically. International students can still take the tests through June of 2021.

Deborah DaSilva, Barrington’s ACT and SAT prep program coordinator, spoke on the removal of the Subjects Tests in relation to the Advanced Placement Exams. 

“College Board… owns the AP Exams. More and more AP classes means more and more students taking AP Exams… they don’t need the Subject Tests – the AP exams are taking those over anyway,” DaSilva said.

The College Board says that students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on if and how they will consider Subject Test scores.

The College Board has also decided to discontinue the optional Essay. Students who are currently registered, or are planning to register, for the Essay still can up until the June 2021 administration. Students who want to cancel the optional Essay can do so via their online account, and they will not be charged with additional fees up until the registration deadline. Either way, students will no longer be able to register for an SAT with an Essay beyond June 2021.

“The Essay is gone from the SAT, from that college entrance exam. I think it will remain gone,” DaSilva said. “So few colleges use it for any kind of measurement for entrance. If you went on most colleges’ websites and you looked for entrance requirements, you would see ‘Essay component optional’. Most of them have said that for years.”

DaSilva said that both changes made by the company were changes to the College Board structure, not the test itself. The content of the Math, the Reading and the Writing and Language sections of the SAT will not change. It is unclear at the moment whether these recent changes are exclusively due to the pandemic or if they will remain permanent. 

DaSilva also said that those students looking to academically differentiate themselves in the absence of the Subject Tests and the Essay can still do so by taking Advanced Placement classes and exams.

“It’s not necessary for students to do more and more and more. I think taking away the [Essay and Subject Tests] allows students to narrow his or her focus,” DaSilva said.