Last year, The College Board announced that the SAT suite of assessments would become all digital by 2024. The SAT will be given digitally internationally beginning in 2023 and in the U.S. in 2024.
“We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board. “We’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible.”
“The changes to the test are timely and clearly centered around improving the student experience,” said Ronné Turner, Vice Provost for Admissions & Financial Aid at Washington University in St. Louis. For example, students and educators will get scores back in days, instead of weeks.
The SAT will continue to be administered in a school or in a test center with a proctor present — not at home. Students will be able to use their own device (laptop or tablet) or a school-issued device. If students don’t have a device to use, The College Board will provide one for use on test day. If a student loses connectivity or power, the digital SAT has been designed to ensure they won’t lose their work or time while they reconnect.
With the transition to digital tests, students will still have access to free practice resources on Khan Academy. Students taking the SAT Suite will continue to connect to scholarships and the College Board National Recognition Programs. Digital SAT score reports will also connect students to information and resources about local two-year colleges, workforce training programs, and career options.
Students Say It’s Easier to Take
Students who participated in the global pilot of the digital SAT said the test experience was less stressful and a “whole lot quicker” than the current paper and pencil test. For one thing, you won’t have to worry about filling in the wrong circles by mistake. The digital SAT will be two hours long, instead of the current three hours for the pen and paper test. The new test will feature shorter reading passages with one question tied to each, and passages will reflect a wider range of topics that represent the works students read in college. Calculators will be allowed on the entire math section.
Educators Say It’s Easier to Administer
The changes will also make the SAT more secure. With the current paper and pencil SAT, if one test form is compromised it can mean canceling scores for a whole group of students. Going digital allows every student to receive a unique test form, so it will be practically impossible to share answers. In addition, educators will no longer have to deal with packing, sorting, or shipping test materials.
An Option for Students to Show Their Strengths
While the transition to digital will bring a number of student- and educator-friendly changes, the most important features of the SAT Suite (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT™ 10, PSAT™ 8/9) will stay the same. The SAT continues to play a vital role in a holistic admissions process and continues to connect students to post-secondary and scholarship opportunities.
When nearly every college went test-optional during the COVID pandemic, millions of students still took the SAT. That trend continued with the high school class of 2022. Most students want to take the SAT, find out how they did, and then decide if they want to submit their scores to colleges. When surveyed, 83% of students said they want the option to submit test scores to colleges.
Khan: College admissions exams could come back in favor
Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, asserts that removing the testing requirement did not remove the need for some indication of college readiness and predicts that when people recognize the inequity caused by making the tests optional, the pendulum could shift back to requiring college admissions exams.
When viewed within the context of where a student lives and learns, test scores can confirm a student’s grades or demonstrate their strengths beyond what their high school grades may show. “The SAT allows every student—regardless of where they go to high school—to be seen and to access opportunities that will shape their lives and careers,” Rodriguez said.
More information about the SAT changes can be found at SAT.org/digital.