What Do The Upcoming changes to the SAT mean

What Do The Upcoming Changes to the SAT Mean, Exactly?

There have been some big alterations to the SAT in the past year.

The way students take the test, the availability of in-person testing, and entire sections being dissolved are among the changes facing students taking the exam for college admissions.

College Board Drops SAT Essay and Subject Tests

The College Board announced Tuesday, January 19, 2021 that the optional essay portion, as well as SAT subject tests, will be discontinued. Students who already registered for subject tests prior to the discontinuation will be refunded.

The College Board said it’s currently working to make sure that the SAT can be “streamlined” and delivered online, in the event that testing continues to be impacted.

What This Means For Students Taking The SAT

After June 2021, students taking the SAT won’t have the option of the essay portion. In their January announcement the College Board explained that their decision recognized “that there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing.”

The College Board said it will no longer offer subject tests to US students effective immediately, and that the tests will be phased out for international students studying in the US by summer 2022.


Why Are These Changes Occurring?

In 2020 students filed 2.2 million registrations to take their SAT’s on a weekend, but only around 900k of those tests were actually taken. Many students last year were unable to take the SAT, because testing locations nationally and internationally were forced to close. The pandemic “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to reduce and simplify demands on students,” say officials from The College Board. 

The College Board linked its problems finding places to test to eliminating the SAT Subject Tests.

Colleges made significant adjustments to their requirements across the board in 2020. In addition to introducing virtual campus tours, remote student interviews, and reduced class sizes, many schools in the US also revisited their testing requirements.

What are SAT subject tests?

The College Board’s SAT subject tests were 20 multiple-choice question standardized exams, typically taken to improve a student’s credentials for college admissions. They lasted an hour apiece, and covered topics like math, literature, history, biology, chemistry, physics, and foreign languages. 

Around 1.8 million high school students took the SAT in 2017, but only 219K of them sat for a subject test.

More diverse access to AP courses, the College Board stated, means tests in subjects like biology, physics, and history are “no longer necessary for students to show what they know.”

Can you still take the SAT essay section?

According to the College Board, the SAT essay can still be taken by students taking the exam through June 2021. As always, this portion of the test is optional, but there are some schools still require or consider it.

After June 2021, the College Board said, it will be available in certain states, including Delaware and Oklahoma. 

Is the ACT Changing?

Right now, it’s not clear whether the ACT will change in 2021. “ACT is reviewing options for 2021-22 test-takers to drive the best possible outcomes for students,” said a representative of the company.

Staying Prepared

If your student has been preparing for the SAT with a tutor, remember to ask about how recent changes to the SAT may affect your learning plan. Revisit goals for the SAT, check test requirements at colleges on your student’s list, and work with your tutor to adjust your prep.


For help with a personalized plan for SAT test prep, connect with an expert tutor on Wyzant.

Latest Posts

Scroll to Top