College Board discontinues SAT subject tests and the optional SAT essay; Upstate universities adjust

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ANDERSON, SC (WSPA)–If you’re preparing for college, the SAT requirements are changing, according to the College Board. The group is simplifying demands on students amid the pandemic.

7-News has learned that some Upstate universities are already adjusting to the recent announcement.

Schools like Anderson and Clemson Universities have made the decision to go test optional, which means– students don’t have to submit a standardized tests score before getting admitted into school. However, universities will be looking heavily at other things.

“The College Board let us know that they were going to be doing away with certain subject tests, as well as doing away with the essay portion of the SAT,” said William Monts, Associate Vice-President Dean of Traditional Admission at Anderson University.

The College Board, a non-profit who administers the tests, said SAT Subject Tests will be cut in the U.S., and for international students, it will be phased out by June 2021. Anderson University believes it’s all to accommodate students during the pandemic.

“Pretty much because of the lack of availability for testing right now. Students are just unable to find testing sites,” Monts said. “So we knew the main thing was just going to be the lack of availability for standardized tests, and so colleges knew that they were going to need to make a decision, fairly early for this upcoming class, as to whether or not they were going to go test optional in their admission requirements,” he said.

“I think recognizing the situation that last year’s senior class, as well as the class of 2021 in accessing the tests and testing sites. There were numerous cancellations, it’s hard to even take the tests and recognizing the difficulties that those students might be going through to obtain a test score, it made sense for us to make that test score optional,” said Joe Galbraith, Associate Vice-President of Strategic Communications at Clemson University.

Clemson University said the writing portion or the SAT Subject tests wasn’t a requirement this past school year, and it won’t be in the fall.

“Our admissions team, really evaluates transcripts and we request of course it’s optional for a personal statement to be included with the application. And that is not an assigned writing task like an essay might be, but just an individual can provide their personal story of why they want to come to Clemson or why they’re qualified to come to Clemson and accompany that with the application,” Galbraith said.

Anderson University said students will be required to write two essays, and they will also look at students as a whole.

“We did assess our application process and really just looking at how can we help the student, and all of the obstacles that they were having to face as far as meeting and getting college requirements. We did add two essays, so students are required to submit two essays along with their high school transcript in place of the standardized tests,” Monts said.

One high school student thinks people should take the tests if they have the opportunity.

“I do think it’s important to look at grades, because some people aren’t good tests takers, standardized test takers, so you can be top ten in your class and only make maybe a 1050 on the SAT, but I do think the SAT should be something you should take before you go to college,” said Renee McClain, a high school senior.

According to the College Board, students can still take the optional SAT Essay up to June, but thereafter, it will only be available in states where it’s required for SAT School Day administrations.  

Anderson University said there are no specifics from the Board on how long this change will last. The College Board said it will develop a streamlined digital version of the tests at some point in the future.  

Click here to read more about the College Board’s decision and changes.

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