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SAT Drops Essay and Subject Tests

You may have heard of this pandemic that’s resulted in a lot of changes at schools and, well, everything? Here’s one more change: The College Board announced it’s dropping its subject tests  for U.S. students immediately. The optional essay test will end after the June 2021 test administration. (International students will still have two more chances for subjects tests in May and June of 2021.)

What’s that mean for you? Read on…

If you’ve already registered...

The College Board has said that if you already signed up for subject tests in 2021, you’ll automatically have your registration cancelled and any fees refunded. 

(International students can opt to cancel–just contact the College Board by calling 1-212-713-7789 9 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday or email customer service at sat@info.collegeboard.org. You’ll need to provide your test month, test year, first name, last name, full address, date of birth, and name of school.)

If you were planning to submit those scores to colleges, the College Board recommends contacting the schools directly to see what else you can do to strengthen your application. 

If you already took the subject tests and submitted scores, the College Board recommends contacting them to see if the school is still accepting them or if you need to do something else. 

The optional essay test is still available until June 2021. If you choose to cancel it, you can do so through your online account and get a full refund of any fees. Just be sure you take care of it before the registration deadline. 

You can see the most up-to-date list of test dates and registration deadlines here.

See also: The Ultimate College Application Timeline

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Streamline your SAT prep

The good news: If you don’t have to worry about essays and subject matter tests, that gives you more time to focus on the “core” SAT tests. One less thing to do as part of your college search is a good thing.

Streamlined or not, you still want to be as prepared as possible when you sit down to take the SAT. Check out our guide to how to prepare for the SAT. It covers everything from figuring out your optimal studying strategy to tips to make test day no-stress.

Rethink Advanced Placement tests

Unfortunately, just because there are fewer tests doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your test scores at all. 

In fact, many experts believe that without SAT subject tests, Advanced Placement tests will take on even more importance in your college application. (If you didn’t know, the College Board administers both the SAT and AP tests.)

For example, SAT subject tests are often used to gauge freshman students’ placement in science, math or language classes. Without those, a good score on an AP test could be your ticket to skipping Intro to Trig or French 101.

While AP tests aren’t limited to only elite schools any more, the fact is not every school offers every test–especially smaller or rural schools where there just aren’t enough students interested in a specific, non-core subject.

If your anticipated major makes it important for you to have certain AP scores and your high school doesn’t offer them, you can take them at another exam center. The College Board explains the steps you’ll need to take. 

Another option for those who aren’t yet juniors: you can start lobbying your school now to add more Advanced Placement classes. 

Need more information on Advanced Placement tests? You can contact the AP customer service team at 888-225-5427 or by emailing apstudents@info.collegeboard.org.

Stay focused on the prize

While this may feel like a big change, in reality, it requires only tweaks to your college prep plans. (And after living through 2020, you’re a pro at dealing with changes.) 

After all, the subject tests and essay weren’t generally required by colleges. If they were an important part of how you planned to show your academic strengths, you have other options. Take a look at our Ultimate College Application timeline to ensure you’ve got all your bases covered.

Still have questions about the changes to the SAT? You can contact the College Board directly:
Email: sat@info.collegeboard.org

Phone (U.S.): 866-756-7346; (international): 212-713-7789

If not taking the subject or essay tests leaves you a little extra time, check out our state-by-state guide to scholarships and financial aid.

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