High school students and their parents preparing for college admissions, may be looking over the options of standardized assessments. The College Board administers the SAT and the SAT Suite which includes several versions of PSAT which are optional and taken earlier in high school. The College Board announced early this year that the way the tests will be delivered is changing. A digital version of the SAT and the SAT Suite has been created. The digital version is scheduled to replace the paper version as soon as 2023.
The change to a digital SAT does not mean that students may take the SAT from home. Proctoring at an official testing center or school will still take place in the same manner as the paper versions. The digital SAT has been tested by the US and international students and the feedback was positive. According to the College Board, “80% of students responded that they found it to be less stressful and 100% of educators reported having a positive experience.” The SAT will also be scored on the same 1600 scale.
The Timeline for the Switch to Digital
For international SAT test-takers digital tests will begin in 2023. However, for the US, students taking the PSAT will begin taking digital exams in October 2023 and then digital SAT exams will follow in the Spring of 2024. Digital tests will be taken on a computer or tablet either provided by the testing center or owned by the student.
The Changes Ahead
The actual exam will be changing as a result of becoming digitalized. Below is an overview of the changes that test-takers should be aware of.
Shortened Exam Time
With the paper version of the SAT, students have 3 hours (180 minutes) to complete the reading, writing and language, and math sections of the exam. The new digital SAT will be shortened to about 2 hours.
Elimination of No Calculator Math Section
The current version of the SAT has two math sections, in one section the student is allowed to use a calculator while in the other the student is not. Moving forward, the no calculator math section will be eliminated. Therefore, the test-taker may use a calculator for the entire math portion of the exam. A graphing calculator will be built into the testing app or students can bring their own.
The ACT test also allows test takers to use a calculator in the math portion as long as the calculator is not on the prohibited calculator list. It’s worth noting that the ACT test has had a digital option since September 2020. Check with your school and/or district to see if they provide an online option. Some schools don’t as they are required to have specific computers and networks and they may not meet that requirement.
Elimination of Long Essays
Long essays are being replaced with short passages with a single question per passage. Which may be more concise for the test-taker.
Faster Score Delivery
Because the exam will be digital, students and their parents can expect a quicker notification of test scores. Scores will come back in days rather than weeks.
The digital system will ensure each student has a unique test. This will make it nearly impossible to cheat or share answers.
SAT Is Not Required For College Admissions
Many colleges are universities are becoming test-optional schools. For many students, taking the SAT to get into college is not necessary. Instead, colleges and universities may require their college freshmen to take placement tests, also called assessment tests. The purpose of college placement tests is similar to the purpose of the SAT. Placement tests determine how prepared a student is to do college-level work. These test scores give a college an idea of the student’s academic skill level. For more information on placement tests see College Placement Tests: Math And English.
I’ve earned three degrees, AS in Business, BS in Business Entrepreneurship, and my MBA in Entrepreneurship and Global Business, and I’ve never studied for or taken the SAT or ACT tests. Also, I didn’t have to take the GMAT or GRE when I applied for graduate school. I was under the assumption that I would have to take one of them as it was a requirement for admissions. When they waived the requirement, I was pleasantly surprised. I was told it was because I attended the same university (California State University, Sacramento) as an undergraduate and they looked at my undergraduate work. I’m not sure what they considered, my GPA, coursework, or something else. I didn’t inquire further; I was happy I didn’t have to take it.
SAT Causes Students Unnecessary Stress
In many cases, students don’t need to take the SAT to apply, be admitted, and attend college. Therefore, I don’t recommend putting yourself through the stress if you don’t have to. It’s not that I don’t want you to take these tests because they are difficult or time-consuming. I don’t want you to take them if they aren’t necessary. I want you to use your time efficiently. Taking a high-stakes test when you don’t have to is not a good use of your time. For more information about how the SAT affects test-takers see Many Students May Not Need To Take SAT and ACT Tests.
For some students who want to attend a specific college, the SAT or ACT may be needed. Those students should prepare and study hard. However, be sure that you are one of those students, you don’t want to give yourself any unnecessary stress. You also want to be sure you are utilizing your time efficiently. You can use the time you would have spent studying to prepare for college or get a job and work.