SAT Subject Tests & optional SAT essay cancelled: FAQs

Last week, the College Board officially dropped SAT Subject Tests and the general SAT's optional essay section. Now that the news has had time to sink in, some students are wondering about their next steps.

Here are the answers to the most common questions we've seen.


What should I do if I'm already registered for Subject Tests?

U.S. students already registered for Subject Tests will have their registrations automatically canceled and will receive full refunds. International students can either proceed with the May/June Subject Test administrations or contact the College Board to cancel for a full refund. Talk to your college counselor for guidance as you decide whether to sit for the tests or cancel your registration.

What should I do if I'm already registered for the SAT with Essay?

Students registered for test dates through June 2021 can choose either to sit for the essay as planned or to cancel the essay section up until the registration deadline. Talk to your college counselor for guidance as you decide whether to sit for the essay or skip it.

I already took the SAT with Essay and/or Subject Tests. Will colleges still consider those scores?

The answer to this question will vary from one school to another. We recommend monitoring the websites of the colleges you're interested in. In late spring and early summer, most colleges update their application requirements for the upcoming fall admission cycle. At that point, you’ll know whether any of the schools on your list will take SAT essay or Subject Test scores into consideration if students already have them.

I'm an international student. Can I register now for Subject Tests while they're still available?

Yes, and if you're going to do that, we recommend registering as soon as possible, before seats fill up. The May registration deadline is April 8th.

Why do international students get two more chances to take Subject Tests, but U.S. students don't?

One likely reason is that colleges tend to rely more on standardized test scores for students applying abroad. Furthermore, according to the College Board, international students' Subject Test scores are used for a wider variety of purposes, including advanced standing/placement at universities and local credential equivalences for entering colleges.

I was planning to use Subject Test scores to showcase specific strengths on my college applications. What should I do now?

Consult your college counselor for individualized advice. The College Board has begun pushing students to focus on AP courses in lieu of Subject Tests, but every student’s situation is unique and your counselor can help you figure out the next steps that make the most sense for you.

I want to sit for an AP exam instead of the Subject Test I was planning to take, but my school doesn't offer the exam I want. What do I do?

Due to the pandemic, the AP exam registration deadline has been extended to March 12th. Search the AP Course Ledger by country, state/province, or city to find a school that offers your desired test. Call the school to find out if it plans to allow test-takers from other schools. 

I've already put so much effort into preparing for Subject Tests. Do these cancellations mean it was a waste of time and energy?

Not entirely. It's certainly frustrating if you've been prepping for a specific test that will no longer take place, and it's okay to let yourself acknowledge that disappointment. However, the content and strategies you've studied may be applicable to other exams or your future coursework. The hard work you've put in and the study habits you've developed through this experience can still set you up for future success. 

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

You also might like: