Changes Are Coming to the SAT

The College Board, which administers the SAT college entrance exam, is making changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent College Board statement, the organization claims that “the pandemic accelerated a process already underway to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.” Specifically, they are dropping the optional essay and will no longer administer subject-matter tests in the U.S.

In addition, they are continuing to work on developing a digital version of the SAT—an initiative they rushed into last year when testing centers shut down. While that effort apparently failed, they are back at the drawing board hoping to offer a digital version at testing sites that will be monitored by proctors.  Look for updates as early as by Spring.

As noted in a New York Times article these changes come at a time “when more colleges are dropping the requirement that students take the test, as well as its competitor the ACT, a trend driven in part by concerns about equity that received a boost during the pandemic.”

Changing Priorities?

While some believe this heralds the beginning of the end for the SAT, few are counting out the College Board. Jon Boeckenstedt, the vice provost of enrollment at Oregon State University suggests that if and when the SAT is eliminated, the organization will simply promote more AP courses, which happen to require AP tests that the College Board also administers.

Not so, says David Coleman, CEO of the College Board. Coleman maintains that the goal is to eliminate redundant exams and ease the burden on students: “Anything that can reduce unnecessary anxiety and get out of the way is of huge value to us,” he noted.