This morning, January 19th 2021, the Washington Post published an article that stated the College Board is eliminating “the optional essay-writing section of the SAT and…SAT subject tests.” We’re writing this article to help you parents and students interpret this article and understand how to adapt when navigating the college admissions process given the news.
Let’s start with what a college admissions officer cares about. When college admissions officers review a college application, they are looking over two overarching categories—the academic category and the non-academic category. The former includes things like your GPA, class rank (when applicable), and standardized test scores. The latter includes things like your essay, activity list, and interview.
In our experience, it is helpful to think about each element of the academic category as an opportunity to prove your academic qualification to that university. It is a way to prove to the university that you will be able to handle the academic rigor of the variety of classes offered if that college accepts you. If the College Board is eliminating the SAT Subject Tests, this means this is one fewer opportunity you have to demonstrate to the college of choice your academic prowess. What should you do, then? Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward on the other academic components of the application. This means do the best you can on the regular SAT. If you’re taking AP Exams, make sure you do well. In a way, this news is a positive because it allows you to stay focused on a select few things to prove your academic ability. But if you are unable to perform, it could, unfortunately, affect you negatively.
The other thing you can do to put yourself in a position for success is to make sure you’ve developed and communicated authentic personal story through the non-academic components of the college application. Are you the theater kid? Are you the writer because you enjoy writing short stories and poetry? Are you an athlete? A musician? If you’re unsure what your story should or can be simply think about the areas in your life where you spend the most of your time or what your heart pulls you to do. It may just be one activity or it could be a couple. It may be things you do at school or could very well be things outside of school (babysitting, jobs, activism, etc). If you’re wondering where to begin discovering these themes, start by stringing together the things that you enjoy doing in your free time. My point in this paragraph is to remind you that you should still use—even in the light of this global pandemic—the core components of the college application (activity list, common application essay, supplemental essay, honors and awards, and the interview) to elaborate on this story
If you have questions, Livius expert advisors are always willing to talk with you, call us to get your question answered at 800-428-8378. We will continue to update you here with any further developments or announcements regarding the subject.