Recently, the College Board, which administers the SAT and the Advanced Placement (AP) exams, announced two significant changes to the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests.
First, the SAT will no longer have an essay writing section. The current version with the essay contained a writing prompt that would require a student to compile an evidence-based argument in response to a prompt. The essay score would not count as part of the official score (where the max is 1600) but as a separate score. In reality, few colleges required the writing component of the SAT, nor took the time to factor the writing samples into their college application process. This likely explains why the SAT decided to finally halt this section of the test. Please note, however, that the Writing/Language Arts section, which tests grammar and effectiveness of expression, remains a part of the test (and the Verbal score).
Second, the SAT decided to eliminate the Subject Tests. This move will come as more of a surprise to many and have more of a consequential impact. Some schools required students to submit Subject Test scores to show proficiency in certain areas. For example, many engineering schools would require a certain score on the Math 2C Subject Test. These tests gave students a chance to show skill in various school subjects to give heft to their class choices and grades on their transcripts. Without these tests, students will be left with one less tool in a shrinking toolbox.
What should students do in response to these changes?
We consistently recommend that more testing rather than less testing boosts a student’s overall application and shows a student is not afraid to take tests to show ability. We think in the current environment with the pandemic and students choosing a test-optional path, our advice is proving more true than ever – the test-optional shift this last year led to a boost in applications as high as 40 percent, making some schools even more of a lottery-like process than a somber review of each individual student’s full attributes and abilities. Additionally, we have seen clients who did submit scores get into their college choices at a much higher rate than those that chose a test-optional path.
Given what we have seen, we believe students should take more AP classes and AP tests, as part of the motivation in the College Board eliminating the Subject Tests is the broad range of AP classes and exams. Getting a 4 or 5 on an AP exam will definitely boost an applicant profile. Also, students should consider taking both the ACT and the SAT, and submitting both scores, as each test covers different skills in different ways.
No applicant wants the “less data” approach to leave them out of their first-choice college. Take more advanced classes, take more tests. It may be the principal way a student has to distinguish himself or herself from the growing pack.
We continue to offer our ACT and SAT prep courses, as well as programs specifically designed for AP classes and exams.
If you have more questions about the recent changes to the SAT, please contact us by phone at (314) 434-4431 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.