College Board Cancels their SAT Subject Tests and Optional Essay


Maria Odio

As the SAT exams start to come close, College Board decided to cancel their Subject Tests and Optional Essay.

Maria Odio, Staff Writer

As the second school quarter comes to an end, Cavaliers are cramming for their upcoming Scholastic Aptitude Test. A handful of Coral Gables students planned on taking the SAT Subject Test and optional essays to show their comprehension and abilities in specific subjects to reinforce their college applications. However, on Jan. 19, the College Board announced that they would be discontinuing these exams in the United States. International students will still be able to take these exams since they are needed for college credits.

SAT Subject Exams are used to test students’ knowledge in subcategories related to English, history, languages, mathematics and science. For example, if a Gables student excelled at mathematics, but English was their weak spot, that student would be able to take a subject test related to mathematics and impress colleges by displaying adeptness in one of their strong suits.

The optional essay that has now been removed from the SAT was almost like a safety net for me than anything else. Seeing as now the essay will be removed, it not only makes my SAT prep easier, but it also leaves me worry-free about having to get a good score on yet another part of the exam for colleges that might have asked for it.l

— junior Rocio Porta

One of the reasons the College Board canceled the Subject Test was to reduce the requirements schools placed on students. Since Advanced Placement courses have so much influence on college applications, subject tests are no longer needed for students to show their intellect. Colleges have access to students’ SAT scores, high school transcripts, what classes they have taken and other academic information, meaning they can see a student’s comprehension of a specific subject area without these exams.

Some students who planned on taking the SAT Subject Tests were upset by this decision since the Subject Tests have a $26 registration fee and then an additional $26 dollars per test. The equivalent of these exams are the AP tests, which cost $93 dollars per exam. But since very few people take these tests now, most of the students were unbothered by this change.

If a student has already taken an SAT Subject Test, the College Board has contacted their member colleges regarding the cancellation of these exams. Those member colleges will decide what to do with the Subject Test scores. As for the students who were previously registered for an SAT Subject Test, College Board has canceled their registration and reimbursed them for all of the paid fees.

Since 2016, the essay section of the SAT has been optional. Students such as the Cavaliers in the International Baccalaureate program could choose to do this 50-minute essay to display their writing skills. Unlike normal essays, the student must show how the author of the given passage uses evidence to support their thesis and claims.

Although many schools require their applicants to write this essay, the exam was canceled since there are ever-changing requirements for students and colleges. High school students can still test and display their skills in the reading, writing and language portion of the SATs.

Pullquote: “Prior to the changes, I thought that taking the SAT with the essay was important for my future college application process. Despite not inherently being a requirement to apply, it still looks good on college applications and may be the difference between me getting into my dream school versus someone else,” junior Benjamin Pla said.

Those that have been registered for the exam then can either cancel or proceed with the essay. On the other hand, students who wanted to take the essay and have not registered can still sign up via the June 2021 administration. After June 2021, the SAT essay will only be available to specific states that require this section for the “SAT School Day administrations”.

Although these exams have been canceled, students can still impress colleges with a high SAT score and achievements on their high school transcript. Instead of taking a Subject Test, students can enroll themselves in an Advanced Placement classes, especially since some subject tests overlapped with the AP exams. Over time, colleges have also stopped requiring the Optional Essay, meaning it will not necessarily hurt someone’s chance to get into their dream school if they do not take it.