The College Board has announced it will terminate the optional essay section and subject matter tests from the SAT for students in the U.S.

In a note published on its site, the standardized testing nonprofit wrote that the COVID-19 pandemic “accelerated a process already underway” to “simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The College Board said more access to AP courses means SAT subject tests like biology, physics, and world history are “no longer necessary for students to show what they know.” The SAT has administered subject tests as optional, multiple-choice exams that students can take to show proficiency on certain topics not included in the general exam.

U.S. students who have signed up for subject tests will receive a refund. The College Board will administer two final SAT subject tests in May and June 2021 for international students because they “are used internationally for a wider variety of purposes.”

The exam’s optional essay section was first instituted in 2005, and will now be dropped after June 2021 since the College Board believes that “there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing.” The section boosted the SATs’ total score by 800 points. It will only be available in states where it’s necessitated for SAT School Day, where juniors and seniors can take the exam in school, on a weekday. This provides centralized access to the exam, as it doesn’t conflict with after-school and weekend commitments, and provides reduced price and low-income options for some students. Students who have registered to take the test in the spring can cancel for free whenever they want.

The College Board is also working on figuring out how the test can be “streamlined” and “digitally delivered” if the pandemic “continues to impact testing this spring.”

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