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What To Do After SAT II and SAT Essay Discontinued?

In January 2021, College Board announced that the SAT Subject Tests (SAT II) as well as the optional SAT Essay would no longer be offered, due to the widespread availability of AP and other relevant opportunities to showcase students’ writing skills.


Although the subject tests were already on a decline, this cancellation would still harm those who expect to use the scores to demonstrate their ability in a specific area or to compensate for their poor academic reports but have limited access to AP courses.


To adapt to this change, we suggest future applicants to prepare well in the following areas, in addition to building a strong portfolio including excellent academic reports and extra-curricular activities that can form a positive impression.


1. AP Courses and Exams

According to College Board, “they will continue to enrich and expand access to AP courses, which let students showcase their skills through challenging coursework.” Candidates who want to show their skills in specific subject areas can choose to take relevant ones out of the 38 AP courses in disciplines such as the arts, English, history and social science, math and computer science, the sciences, and world languages and culture.


2. Demonstration of Writing Skills

As the optional SAT essay test has been cancelled, admission committees would measure candidates’ writing skills through personal statements, ACT essay (which is optional) , college essays or other works. For example, Princeton asks applicants to submit a graded paper to better assess their written expressions in an academic setting.


The College Board also claims that “the SAT will continue to measure writing throughout the test. The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language sections are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT.”


3. Improving Standardized Test Scores

Due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, many universities keep allowing candidates to apply without requiring ACT or SAT test results in the 2021-2022 admission cycle. The undergraduate admission to all the Ivy League schools are test-optional.


However, being optional doesn’t mean being less important. As a matter of fact, the cancellation of two standardized metrics may indicate that the existing ones might carry more weight. Standardized test scores have always been one of the many factors that admission offices take into consideration when making admission decisions, and a good SAT or ACT score might help them better distinguish candidates when assessing students with similar backgrounds.


(It is interesting to note that there are few colleges that have eliminated the requirement for standardized test scores. In June 2020, California Institute of Technology, for example, announced a two-year moratorium on both the requirement and consideration of SAT and ACT for domestic and international students. Thus students are suggested to check the website of each college for specific requirements.)


In the past decade, Norton House has helped candidates prepare and achieve satisfying scores in AP, ACT and SAT. If you need professional help with these tests as well as the college application, please feel free to contact us.


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