(Featured image provided by Wikimedia Commons)
In an announcement made on Tuesday on the official College Board Newsroom website, the College Board stated that they will be officially starting to deliver the SAT® Suite of Assessments tests digitally. The Suite of Assessments includes the PSAT™ 8/9, PSAT™ 10, PSAT/NMSQT®, and SATs. The SAT will still be scored out on a scale of up to 1600, but a number of other changes will also be added to help students have a more fair and easy test.
“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board. “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform—we’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible. With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs.”
Among the many changes being made, the SAT will be shortened from 3 hours long to only two hours, students will also be given more time to answer each question. The passages that are featured in the SAT will also be shorter, with only one question pertaining to every passage. On the math side of things, a calculator will be available to use throughout the entire math portion instead of just half.
The test can be taken on either a student’s personal computer or a school-issued device, and if some sort of technical issue arises like loss of connection or power, the College Board says they have imputed measures so that students won’t lose time or work while they wait to get back online. Students won’t have to worry about having to bring a No. 2 pencil, eraser, or calculator anymore since the test will be online. There also won’t be any risks of students losing points on questions with answer bubbles that weren’t properly filled or any other writing error.
Another advantage to going digital is that the tests will have more security. Usually on the paper and pencil tests, if one student is found to be cheating, it could cancel out not only their test but a whole group of students’ tests as well. On the digital version, every student will be given a unique test form, making it nearly impossible to cheat off others.
Despite all of these promising new changes, there are still also some critics about the decision to make the tests virtual. Bob Schaeffer, executive director of The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (also known as FairTest) said in a statement: “Shifting an unnecessary, biased, coachable, and poorly predictive multiple-choice exam that few schools currently require from pencil-and-paper delivery to an electronic format does not magically transform it into a more accurate, fairer or valid tool for assessing college readiness.”
The College Board had already launched a prototype digital version of the SAT back in November, with select groups of students taking it. So far, many students who took the virtual test, as well as educators, have provided much positive feedback.
“It felt a lot less stressful, and a whole lot quicker than I thought it’d be,” said Natalia Cossio, an 11th-grader from Fairfax County, VA. “The shorter passages helped me concentrate more on what the question wanted me to do. Plus, you don’t have to remember to bring a calculator or a pencil.”
“I’m pleased that the greater flexibility in administering the test will expand access to SAT School Day, which research shows increases college-going rates for low-income students,” stated Ronné Turner, Vice Provost for Admissions & Financial Aid at Washington University in St. Louis.
The College Board has stated that the SAT will be delivered digitally internationally by 2023, and by 2024 for the U.S. The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 will be delivered digitally by 2023 and the PSAT 10 will be available in 2024. If you would like to learn more about these changes, you can go to the original statement here or go to SAT.org/digital.