Big changes are on the horizon with the recent announcement that the SAT will be moving into the digital world to boost its relevancy and accessibility. This is driven by the recent drop in college admissions no longer requiring the SAT for acceptance. The move to digital started before the pandemic but gained a lot of momentum when colleges had to rethink their college applications process. This change to the digital world will start internationally in 2023 and should take effect in America in 2024.

What to Expect from a Digital SAT Test

Many students are now familiar with online learning, and can better navigate the digital world. From early feedback, many students appreciate the ease of use when taking the test online. They don’t have to worry about bringing the wrong pencil or calculator to the test. Another perk of the digital switch is that testing time has been cut down an hour, bringing the reading, math, and writing assessment down to two hours from three. Testing results will also now be available within days, versus the weeks it would take to process all of the paper tests.

According to Pricilla Rodriquez, Vice President of College Readiness Assessments at College Board, “The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant…we’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible.” With shifting to a digital format, there is hope that this test will be more approachable for all students. Students can use their laptops, but if they don’t have a device, one will be provided by College Board on the day of testing. There is no worry in losing connectivity — if this happens the test is designed so that no work or time will be lost when the student can connect.

With the digital format, the SAT is more secure than ever. In the past, the paper and pencil method relied on diligent eyes at the testing center. One compromised SAT could mean cancelation of the administration of the test, or the scores, for a whole group of students. With digital, each test is unique, making it impossible to cheat.

In addition to reformatting the SAT to digital to make it more approachable, it is also in response to more colleges deciding to make standardized tests optional for admission. FairTest, the national center for fair and open testing, found that 80% of surveyed colleges are not requiring standardized tests scores for Fall 2022. While many schools may be opting out of requiring the SAT, it is still a requirement for many beneficial college scholarships.

The new digital SAT was piloted by College Board in November of 2021, and the results have proved positive. From the feedback gathered both in the U.S. and internationally, 80% of students found taking the test digitally to be much less stressful. Educators across the board found it to be a positive experience for their students.

Big Changes Ahead for Standardized Testing?

As they continue to fine-tune the digital SAT for full use, it will be interesting to see how this changes the world of standardized testing across the board. While many college institutions are choosing to make the SAT optional, this test can still help provide students an upper hand when competing for college scholarships. Students can expect this change to fully take effect in 2024. SAT prep is still an important component in preparing for college. College Benefits Research Group provides several helpful workshops to help students excel on standardized tests.

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