Bye Bye, SAT Essay. Bye Bye, Subject Tests!

That’s right. On January 19, 2021 we said adieu to the SAT Subject Tests and optional essay*. The reasons are listed on their website, but in summary (per College Board): AP tests are taking over and are more accessible anyway, and the essay portion isn’t a super reliable predictor of writing mastery.

*International students will still have access to Subject Tests until June 2021, and the Essay portion can be cancelled by students free of charge through June 2021 (unless your individual state requires it for other purposes).

What does this mean for the “testing requirements” overall in college admissions?

Well, likely it will mean that the class of 2022 will navigate similar testing complexities as the class of 2021. This is somewhat conjecture, but let’s pretend I’ve been in this game a while…

Colleges who really held onto their love of SAT Subject Tests for as long as possible through the 2020 application season (*ahem* Georgetown) will likely place emphasis on the SAT/ACT and/or want to see IB/AP scores. 

Schools who went test-optional will likely remain test-optional. Most public universities will remain test-optional to some extent (really, Alabama? You couldn’t just let the test requirement go completely?) and admission reps at these schools will continue to grit their teeth, cry a little (or a lot) at the thought of holistically reviewing tens of thousands of applications, and then soothe themselves with thoughts of a more diverse student population. The private university sector will remain overall test-optional and their admission reps will dance a little jig while the financial aid office frantically tries to figure out how to mitigate their massive sticker price with scholarships based on holistic reviews for another year.

But what you’re really wondering is, will this make admissions less competitive or make competitive schools more accessible? 

Short answer – no. Competitive schools who like their numbers (rank, GPA, test scores, etc) will find new numbers to hone in on. Competitive schools who like their extracurriculars will be flooded with students who have shiny resumes, but weren’t the strongest test-takers.

So does this change the admissions landscape overall?

Also, no. The selective schools will still be selective. The accessible schools will still be accessible. There will be a handful of schools here and there who really revamp or reimagine their admissions process, but that will be as a result of university vision and goals, not testing requirements. 

Here’s my advice: 

If it’s safe for your health and emotional state – take an SAT or ACT and celebrate that you don’t have to debate whether to take a Subject Test or the optional essay. Use that mental energy to research colleges and programs that meet your needs and will support you in your educational journey.