Speed Reads

lessons learned

The SAT is permanently dropping its optional essay and subject tests

The College Board is scrapping its SAT subject tests and the SAT's optional essay, among other new pandemic-induced changes.

COVID-19 has cost the College Board both opportunities to hold its SAT college admissions test as well as incentives for students to take the test as colleges loosen admissions requirements. So in an effort to make the college admissions process more "flexible" and "streamlined," the board is abandoning some of its products while working on a new version of the main SAT students can take entirely online, it said Tuesday.

The pandemic has hit both the SAT and its rival, the ACT exam, hard. While 2.2 million students signed up to take the SAT last year, just 900,000 actually did so, the College Board told The Washington Post. The entrance exams were already in decline before the pandemic as critics examined just how effective they were at determining success in college.

The College Board had already made its essay portion optional in 2014, and said Tuesday that the pandemic had simply "accelerated a process already underway ... to simplify our work and reduce demands on students." After all, its Advance Placement exams weren't that different from the subject tests, and AP courses had grown in popularity over the past few years, College Board CEO David Coleman told the Post. So the subject tests will be dropped immediately, while the essay will be abandoned in June, save for in some states that use it to measure school performance. Read more at The Washington Post.