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College Board to eliminate SAT's essay question, subject tests amid COVID challenges

During the pandemic, many colleges have moves away from requiring the standardized test

SAT prep books
SAT prep books
(Maria Tama / Getty Images)
Updated: January 19, 2021 - 10:18am

The College Board announced Tuesday that it will be eliminating the essay-writing portion of the SAT test and supplemental  tests known as subject tests, in part because of the challenges students face during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The company said the challenges – which includes limited in-class learning – has "accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students."

The organization, which has already altered the standardized test in recent years, also said it will further revise the main part of the SAT, with a goal of making the test more "flexible" and "streamlined."

The SAT scores are a major part of the the admissions applications high school senior submit to colleges.

The changes will reportedly enable students to take the test digitally, instead of filling in a bubble-sheet with a pencil, as has been the practice to this point.

The CEO of the College Board, David Coleman, said more information about substantial tests being made to the exam will be available in April.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many students applying to college also have struggled to find testing centers that are open on the proper timelines at which to take the required standardized tests.

Colleges have, in large part, responded by scrapping permanently or temporarily suspending the SAT as a part of the application. Over the last several years, some college admissions offices have moved away from requiring SAT or ACT scores for incoming students. 

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