The College Board made some major announcements today. First, they are immediately discontinuing SAT Subject Tests (the one hour tests in subjects like Literature, Math Level 2, and Chemistry) for students in the United States. They will continue to offer SAT Subject Tests for International Students who wish to take them in May or June of 2021. Students may still be able to submit existing scores from SAT Subject tests, but should check with individual colleges on their policies. If you are registered to take an upcoming SAT Subject Test, the College Board will cancel your registration and give you a full refund.
Second, the College Board is phasing out the SAT Essay by June of 2021. Students who need to take the SAT Essay for their state’s school day administration will still be able to take it. All the other parts of the SAT–Reading, Writing & Language, and Math–will remain the same.
Third, the SAT is developing what they call a “more flexible SAT—a streamlined, digitally delivered test.” They will provide more details about this in the spring.
What does all this mean for high school students?
- The SAT and ACT will become more important. Students who previously could show their subject knowledge with multiple-choice SAT Subject Tests will no longer have that option. With fewer tests that colleges will consider, each test will become relatively more influential.
- AP and IB test results will become more important. One major reason that the College Board gave for eliminating the SAT Subject Tests was that students already have the opportunity to show subject knowledge with AP exams. Top AP test scores–like a 4 or 5–will be a critical component of college applications. If students are in the International Baccalaureate program, scores from those exams can also show college readiness.
- There will likely be a digitally adaptive SAT in the future. My best guess as to what the SAT has in store for the digital SAT is a test much like the current GRE. The GRE is adaptive–if you are performing well, you get more difficult questions, and if you are performing poorly, you get easier questions. By having an adaptive format, the digital GRE takes about half the time a paper version of the test would take. I believe that in the coming years, the SAT will be offered both as a longer paper test, and as a shorter digitally adaptive test. A digital version of the test would require much less time for a school-administered version, making it a popular option.
Stay tuned to our blog for the latest updates on SAT test changes.