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The Verdict

SAT Online

SAT Moves Digital: What Does This Mean?
SAT Online

The Scholas­tic Apti­tude Test (SAT) is a multi­ple choice test offered to high school juniors at vari­ous times through­out the year. Accord­ing to The Prince­ton Review, “The purpose of the SAT is to measure a high school studen­t’s readi­ness for college, and provide colleges with one common data point that can be used to compare all appli­cants.” Start­ing in the spring of 2024, the SAT will only be offered digi­tally, which will be an adjust­ment for students who would have taken it in the paper format. 

Although some aspects are the same, there are some signif­i­cant changes in addi­tion to the shift from paper to digi­tal. The SAT will now be two hours instead of three, there will be shorter read­ing passages instead of multi­ple longer texts, and a calcu­la­tor will be avail­able for the entire math section (College Board). Although these changes are highly bene­fi­cial, now that the SAT is online, the issue of inter­net prob­lems comes into the picture.

When current sopho­mores and juniors took the Prelim­i­nary Scholas­tic Apti­tude Test (PSAT) for the first time digi­tally in the fall of 2023, they iden­ti­fied some strug­gles with these new adjust­ments. “In the fall, our PSAT didn’t start until about an hour after it was supposed to. I feel like that’s going to happen a lot, so I think that the paper version is more reli­able,” says junior Eric Valen­tine. Due to over­whelm­ing numbers of logins nation­wide on the Blue­book app, the PSAT was delayed in a wide range of schools. For that reason, it is not surpris­ing why there is concern that there could be tech­ni­cal diffi­cul­ties moving forward. However, if there are any wifi prob­lems during the test, College Board claims that all work will be saved, and no test­ing time will be lost. Adding on to this issue, SAT Test­ing Coor­di­na­tor Richard Peter­son states, “[the PSAT] actu­ally crashed nation­wide, so it wasn’t just a prob­lem here. If that happens, it can be a test­ing irreg­u­lar­ity. This means that they would prob­a­bly provide the abil­ity for those students to take it again, at no cost, on a future date.”

With this switch to digi­tal-based tests, students will only see one ques­tion at a time, because each ques­tion relates to a differ­ent passage. This contrasts with the paper version, where 10 ques­tions were asso­ci­ated with one longer passage. Valen­tine contin­ues, “I just like to see every­thing out at once. In the paper version you have more free­dom since you can see all of the ques­tions at one time.”

The digi­tal SAT takes other test taking strate­gies away as well. “I used test taking strate­gies like under­lin­ing and mark­ing notes in the margins, and I feel like the online version takes that abil­ity away,” states senior Alice Mayer. Although students are not able to write directly on the test, the digi­tal version does allow students to use an online high­light­ing tool.

Though there are nega­tive outcomes of this switch, since soci­ety has tran­si­tioned into a digi­tal world, it makes sense why this change was imple­mented. As mentioned by junior Raina Deter­man, “The paper version was really daunt­ing to me, and it was much more confus­ing than the online version. Doing it online just makes a lot more sense because it is more straight­for­ward.” Since students have become accus­tomed to taking differ­ent online tests like the Read­ing Inven­tory or the Stan­dards of Learn­ing (SOL) tests, this tran­si­tion is noth­ing new. 

Another bene­fit of this change is that students no longer have to fill in bubble sheets to submit their answers. This decreases time spent before and during the test. “All the time for fill­ing out the bubble sheet in the first half hour is gone, and speak­ing time for the teacher is decreased. It also makes it a lot easier to admin­is­ter the test, and there is less chance of mistakes like a test getting lost or a bubble not being filled in,” explained Peter­son. That being said, this switch may decrease the number of compli­ca­tions on test­ing day, making the over­all process more orga­nized. More­over, students can now view their scores quicker than before, because the time it takes for the papers to be scanned is eliminated. 

Over­all, the change from a paper to digi­tal SAT will affect students across the United States whether they agree with it or not. The ease of the tran­si­tion just comes down to how well students deal with any tech­ni­cal chal­lenges they face and the speed at which they become acquainted with the shift. Peter­son adds, “For the first time, or maybe even the second time students take [the digi­tal SAT] scores might drop. But I think that there will be an adjust­ment period, and the biggest thing is for every­one to get accus­tomed to a major change.”

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About the Contributor
Maya Campbell
Maya Campbell, Layout Designer
Maya Campbell is a junior, and this is her second year as a member of 'The Verdict'. Her favorite part of journalism is designing the layout. Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing basketball and field hockey.

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