College Board has announced the elimination of the optional essay section on the SAT and all SAT II Subject Tests in an effort to reduce and simplify academic demands on students. Subject tests will no longer be offered to U.S. students and the essay section will not be available after the June 2021 test date.

SAT subject tests have been eliminated due to the expanded reach of AP classes and exams. Since AP exams test knowledge and competence in specific subjects, colleges can use these exam scores in lieu of the SAT II test scores. College Board has noted that schools are more interested in “hands-on learning experiences and practical, real-world work” that AP classes provide and encourage students to pursue these opportunities. Any student already registered for an SAT Subject Test in spring 2021 will receive a cancellation notice and refund.

In addition to eliminating the SAT II Subject Tests, the College Board is also eliminating the optional essay after the June 2021 test administration. Instead of measuring writing and editing skills on the essay, these skills will be assessed within the SAT Reading and Writing sections of the test. Students registered to write the optional essay during a spring testing date can cancel this section any time.

These changes are the result of an ever-evolving college admissions landscape. Few schools required the optional essay and subject tests before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cancellation of testing sites across the nation has prompted many schools to adopt test optional policies.

College Board is now focused on providing a “streamlined, digitally delivered test that meets the evolving needs of students and higher education.” Details on this initiative will be released late spring. Current goals include the redistribution of seats from subject testing to SAT testing and increasing the number of testing dates available in 2021. They are also investing in the SAT Suite and tools that allow college reps and students to easily connect.

For additional information, visit College Board at An Update on Reducing and Simplifying Demands on Students – All Access | College Board