College Board announces elimination of essay and subject tests

Amid shifts in college admissions away from standardized tests, the College Board announced their removal of essay sections and subject tests.


Photo By Emma Hutchinson

In addition to studying for the main SAT test, many students spent hours upon hours studying for individual subject tests, which have been discontinued as of Monday.

Taylor White, Mirada Staff

On 19 January, the College Board finalized their COVID-19 plan for testing directed at high school students.  

The plan included both the SAT subject tests to no longer be given out for students to take and the elimination of the optional essay given after the SAT test almost nationwide. Since March 2020, many colleges have become more lenient on the application process and what is required to be considered for that school. 

SAT subject tests are exams given pertaining to a specific subject. Some of the tests given are Biology, Spanish, World History, Chemistry and many more.  

Subject tests are to be finished in an hour. The test itself is in a multiple-choice format and is graded out of 800 points.  

In the past, schools such as Harvard and Georgetown University recommended that students who were planning to apply take one of these subject tests to strengthen their applications. 

However, within recent years an increasing number of college admissions have stopped using SAT subject tests as a way to grade a student’s knowledge of a subject.  

Instead, they often turn to AP tests which have proven to not only be more effective but have gained popularity over the years too. AP tests have more variability in subjects and they also give colleges a better understanding of how well students know the topic or not.

The tests tend to be more in-depth and are given in multiple formats rather than just multiple-choice, allowing students multiple ways to demonstrate their knowledge on subjects.  

While AP tests are not required for students to be admitted to a given school, they can be viewed more favorably if the student demonstrates a higher level of knowledge in the subject they are interested in majoring in.   

The College Board announced that the subject tests will come to an end immediately for domestic students and in the following year for international students. 

As for the SAT optional essays, the plan is quite different.  

From now on, Delaware and Oklahoma are the only states in which students will be able to take the optional essay portion of the SAT. This is because they only want the essay to be given in states that have school accountability measurement and offer the test during the school day.  

For many schools the optional essay was just as important as it sounds, ‘optional.’ High esteemed colleges such as Yale University explained that the essay had limited value and was never truly a part of the admissions process.  

The essay will be an option until the end of the 2021 school year, after June it won’t be administered as a part of the three-hour-long SAT exam.  

For many students, the dropping of both these College Board tests may come to a surprise. As for Junior Jae Yeon Lee he expresses his reaction towards the major news, “I feel relieved because it takes away [some of] the pressure that comes along with taking the exam.”