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SAT Discontinues Subject Tests And Optional Essay

Elissa Nadworny, NPR

The College Board announced on Tuesday that it will discontinue the optional essay component of the SAT and that it will no longer offer subject tests in U.S. history, languages and math, among other topics. The organization, which administers the college entrance exam in addition to several other tests, including Advanced Placement exams, will instead focus efforts on a new digital version of the SAT.

In the announcement, the organization cited the coronavirus pandemic for these changes: “The pandemic accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to reduce and simplify demands on students.” 

College entrance exams have had a hard go of it during the pandemic. Many in-person testing dates for the SAT were canceled because of social distancing needs and closed high school buildings; a previous digital version of the SAT was scrapped in June after technical difficulties; and hundreds of colleges have removed the exam from admissions requirements, in some cases permanently.

Few colleges require the optional writing portion of the SAT or the subject tests, though students can still submit them to supplement their college applications. The AP exams have become far more important in demonstrating mastery of subjects and, in some cases, providing college credit.

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