Drop Your Pencils and Open Your Laptops: SAT Exam Transfers to a Digital Model

Drop Your Pencils and Open Your Laptops: SAT Exam Transfers to a Digital Model

Alex Chizzik, Staff Writer

These days, everything is online. No need to sharpen pencils, write out problems, print papers, or fill in circles on a scantron. There are very few functions that cannot be performed electronically, as everyone has had to adjust in the past few years to digital platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many professions have taken on the virtual realm, and more specifically, learning and teaching methods have changed a drastic amount––for better or for worse. Now, the College Board has taken the leap, announcing recently that the SAT will be administered in digital format within two years.

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), administered by College Board, is designed to evaluate students based on language, comprehension, and analytical skills. Many high school students dread this testing experience, as it requires a great deal of studying, preparation, effort, and devotion. Some also feel that it does not accurately assess their abilities or provide students with enough space to highlight their own unique qualities. The long-awaited and daunting testing experience makes students anxious, stressed, and pressured to succeed. The fact that students are led to believe that their future might be defined by this one numerical score is harmful and detrimental. In more recent years, many colleges and universities have removed the requirement to submit scores from the SAT or ACT. The number of schools that are now considered “test-optional” has greatly increased, especially in response to the pandemic. 

On January 25th, College Board announced that students will take the SAT solely on a computer or tablet at testing centers. In addition to making the test completely digital, the test will have a shortened time frame of two hours instead of three. Usage of a calculator will be permitted for the whole math section, a wider variety of topics will be presented, and the readings will be shorter in length. Because of the online setting and modern technology, students will also know their scores within days rather than weeks. The association has recognized that millions of high school students are questioning if these tests are needed for their futures. This new, enticing exam format will come to use in the United States in 2024. Although the changes to the structure will not affect the current students in high school, it could greatly impact future high schoolers and the college process as a whole. Last year, test pilots were conducted using the new SAT format, and according to College Board, 80% of students found that they experienced much less stress and pressure overall with the digital test model.

Scanners & Forms | ScantronAlthough College Board is making many changes to the test’s style, there are still many things that will remain the same. The test will still manage to measure the knowledge and skills that students learn in school, such as problem solving and critical thinking. It will continue to assess college and career readiness, and be administered in a proper test center with a proctor present. Scores will remain on the 1600 numerical scale, and students can receive the same free online practice resources such as those from Khan Academy. Students will still be able to connect to different scholarships and students who receive accommodations will still get the same support.

Hopefully, with the new alterations to the SAT, less students will undergo the nervousness, anxiety, and tension that has been associated with taking the exam. Because of its new digital setting, it may be more comfortable for students to use their computers or tablets as opposed to paper and a pencil. This new format that College Board is designing is expected to beneficially impact future high school students and better the college application program.