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  • Writer's pictureChris Tamis

Big changes to the SAT

Updated: Feb 10, 2023


The CollegeBoard has announced several huge changes to the administration, format, and structure of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests, impacting students preparing for the next application cycle. While the pandemic may have precipitated these changes, in my opinion, they are long overdue and will benefit every category of student.

In an attempt to assist students and reduce the stresses of college admission, the following changes have been implemented:

1) The elimination of the SAT Subject Tests

AP courses provide students with rich and varied opportunities to showcase their knowledge and skills through college-level coursework and AP exams, making Subject Tests unnecessary.

SAT Subject Tests will no longer be offered, and students will automatically have their registrations canceled and receive a refund. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies regarding previously taken Subject Tests.

2) The elimination of the SAT optional essay

This decision recognizes that there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing. At the same time, writing remains essential to college readiness, and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills. Students can take the SAT with Essay through the June 2021 SAT administration (although it will most likely not be required by any colleges).

Students registered for the SAT with Essay this spring can cancel the Essay portion at any time, free of charge.

3) The development of a more flexible SAT—a streamlined, digitally delivered test that meets the evolving needs of students and higher education

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being innovative and adaptive to what lies ahead. We are committed to making the SAT a more flexible tool, and we are making substantial investments to do so. We’re consulting with our members in K–12 and higher education and will have more to share about that work later this spring.

There’s still a clear demand from students to take the SAT as a way to show their strengths to colleges. Most immediately, we’re working to provide as many opportunities as possible for students in the class of 2022 to take the SAT this year, including by:

  • Allocating seats that would have gone to students taking Subject Tests to students who want to take the SAT.

  • Being prepared to expand capacity for existing administrations and add administrations in the fall if the pandemic continues to impact testing this spring.

In addition, not to be left in the dust, the ACT is also working on a digital format exam that can be taken remotely.

It is also likely that many schools will continue their "test-optional" policies into next year's admissions cycle and beyond, benefiting a wide range of students. Those who take the exam and do not perform as well as they hoped should feel no pressure to submit their scores as this will not negatively impact their admissions chances. Students who perform in the statistically higher range will be able to submit their scores for consideration, demonstrating their academic excellence.

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