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Students writing a practice essay. Photo: Dayna Smith/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Timed essay questions are beginning to become a relic of the past for prospective college students.

The big picture: Elite schools across the nation are dropping the essay score requirements from the SAT and ACT tests that are used to screen candidates. It's part of the general trend of changing attitudes on the value of standardized testing for students during the college admissions process.

The state of play: In recent weeks, many schools have backed off the essay score requirement.

Between the lines: Millions of students take the SAT and ACT every year, and each test takes between three and four hours. The essay portion of the test is optional. However, some schools seen as elite required essay scores, which made the optional portion of the test mandatory for some students.

The essay portion of the test also costs up to an additional $17 on the SAT and $16.50 on the ACT. Costs and accessibility are a concern for students even without the essay being a requirement.

What they're saying: Zach Goldberg, senior director of media relations at The College Board, said writing skills are still required through the redesigned SAT. Through an "evidence-based" reading and writing section of the test, he said, students are asked to edit for "precision and concision" using words and numbers across multiple disciplines.

Yes, but: Writing essays and developing research is still essential to college readiness. Goldberg says the SAT essay provides a "strong complement" to the multiple-choice portion of the test and gives students an opportunity to demonstrate critical thinking skills.

The bottom line: Though schools are abandoning it, the essay portion of the test will remain an option for students and still has its uses.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

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