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Pencils Down: The SAT is Going Digital

The college application process is stressful, for both high schoolers and their parents. So anything that can ease that, even just a little, is a good thing. College Board — the organization who administers standardized tests including the SAT and PSAT — wants to help, announcing today that the SAT exam is going completely digital!

Yes, you read that right: making sure you have paper and sharpened pencils and correctly filled-out tiny bubbles will soon be a thing of the past. The new digital test will be updated to fit the needs of more students. It will be available for U.S. students in 2024, and internationally in 2023.

“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, in the press release. “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.”

In November 2021, College Board conducted a pilot study of the digital SAT in the U.S. and internationally, finding that 80% of students found it less stressful and 100% of educators had a positive experience. For the new digital tests, students are encouraged to bring their own laptops or iPads to the proctored test, or one will be provided for use on test day if needed. Students won’t lose work or time if they lose connectivity or power during the exam.

The new digital SAT will still be scored on a 1600 scale and measure the knowledge and skills learned in high school to test for college and career readiness. However, the entire test will only be two hours instead of three, with more time to answer each question. There will be shorter reading passages, which will reflect a wider range of topics, with just one question tied to each.

Students will also be allowed to use calculators during the entire math section and will receive their scores back in days instead of weeks. Afterward, students will be provided with resources about two-year colleges, workforce training options, and career options outside of a traditional four-year college experience. This is another great change that reflects the growing need of students who don’t want to be saddled with student loans.

And even though many colleges aren’t requiring SAT and ACT scores during the pandemic, the survey done by College Board showed that 83% of students still wanted the option to submit their test scores to college. Making the move to a digital SAT will make this exam more accessible to students, allowing them the option to see their scores and decide if they want to use them in their application.

I wish I had this option in high school, but I’m so glad that teenagers now will be able to put their pencils down and take their SATs online!

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