Let's keep it simple to
quickly release the big news!
SAT Subject Tests are immediately dead, may they RIP.
The optional SAT Essay test is retiring effective June 2021.
SAT is focused on developing a "streamlined, digitally delivered test".
We aren't at all surprised by any of these announcements and actually predicted all three of these as early as 2017 when I first predicted that within FIVE YEARS the SAT Essay and ACT Writing tests would cease to exist. Yep, it's four years later and I didn't need a crystal ball.
Death of the SAT Subject Tests
Overtime, the AP exams have slowly replaced the need for SAT Subject Tests. AP courses have greatly increased in reach and availability at high schools. There are even newer courses, AP Computer Science Principles and AP Capstone, that provide more hands-on learning.
My guess is we will see Collegeboard continue to develop a wider array of AP courses and the subsequent exams.
If you are registered for an upcoming SAT Subject Test, your test is canceled and you will receive a refund. Seats from these students will be given to SAT testers.
Retiring the SAT Essay Test
This test was added, and mandatory, back in 2005. When the SAT was greatly revised and relaunched in March 2016, they pivoted to making this portion of the test optional; the ACT Writing test had been optional since it's debut in 2005. This was a first sign that perhaps the SAT Essay (and ACT Writing) were fading into the sunset.
In spring and early summer 2017 there was a mass exodus from requiring the SAT Essay and ACT Writing, but still some schools held on. Slowly the remaining trickled away until as of yesterday, there were only 12 schools requiring this portion of the test. Now those schools will have no option but to drop the test.
We expect the ACT will quickly follow dropping their own optional writing portion. This is the dance we've watched between these two organizations for decades.
Does this mean writing skills aren't important? NO! Both the SAT and ACT have long assessed knowledge of strong writing skills via multiple choice questions. On the SAT these questions fall in the Writing and Language category while the ACT embeds the questions in the English portion of the test.
Students can still take the SAT writing through June....but why would you? Our recommendation is ask for a refund now, if you are scheduled to take it. It's meaningless at this point.
Digitally Delivered Testing in the Future
This is the race to watch. Who will get there first? ACT or SAT? In the early Covid days, both organizations announced they were rapidly working on a digitally delivered test to take AT HOME. By late summer, Collegeboard backed off of this promise, but obviously have continued to work on it. ACT actually began piloting at home digital testing by late summer, but have yet to debut this. Originally, ACT had hoped to make it available for official testing by December, but December has come and gone with no at home digital solution.
I don't blame either organization. This isn't easy to develop even though tests such as the law school entrance exam, LSAT, have been delivered via this method for years. Last summer, ACT CEO Janet Godwin explained the LSAT administers the number of tests in a year that ACT does on any single test administration date - wow! So, it's complicated, but I'm confident it is in our future.
The ACT and SAT Aren't Going Away
Many colleges want, need, and value these college entrance exams. Their data for their institution demonstrates they predict college success. It also helps streamline their admissions decisions.
Duke University recently announced they received almost 10,000 additional applications in 2020 bringing their total to 49,500. Part of this is due in large part to colleges being test optional for the class of 2021 due to Covid limiting testing opportunities. What Duke has experienced is widespread in selective and elite college admission offices throughout the US. Duke anticipates only admitting 4.5% to 5% of applicants in their regular admission cycle.
I feel for the colleges; they don't have additional staff to help with the admission process. Bringing back the ACT and SAT will certainly help with the surge in future years. That's my opinion, based on 22 years in my position, on what will happen; it's not a commentary on what is fair or not. I'm just giving practical opinions and advice.
Class of 2022 and beyond - keep testing and
test prep in the calendar of your college bound journey.