Big Changes Ahead for SAT Test-Takers

It's going digital, and it will take 2 hours instead of 3
By Stephanie Mojica,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2022 12:18 PM CST
SAT Gets Digital Revamp
The SAT will be revamped and entirely digital by 2024, per CNN.   (Getty Images)

As more and more colleges make the SAT optional, the test itself will be shortened and entirely digital by 2024, reports CNN. The College Board, the body behind the standardized college admissions test, says it did extensive research before making the decision. “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,” a spokeswoman told CNN. The test has been long criticized as advantageous only to affluent white or Asian students. Black, Hispanic, and poor students tend to score significantly lower on the SAT. In response, more than 1,800 colleges have made the SAT or a similar test, the ACT, optional for admissions or dropped the requirement entirely.

The University of California now refuses to even look at standardized test scores, notes the Washington Post. While Harvard University has been credited as a classic backer of standardized tests, they’ve softened their position at least temporarily—test scores are optional until 2026. With the new SAT, pencils will no longer be necessary, the test length will drop from three to two hours, and calculators will be allowed for all math problems. Also, the College Board is revamping the questions and providing more time per question. The classic 1600 perfect score will not change, and the reality remains that families with more resources can afford costly SAT-prep programs or—as revealed in the 2019 college admissions scandal—even pay someone else to take the test.

While part of the digital SAT initiative is in response to the ever-growing controversy about the fairness of the tests, the COVID-19 pandemic also played a role. The classic method of cramming a bunch of students in a classroom with sharpened pencils, not to mention the added stress, was criticized more than ever. As a result, the College Board offered digital SATs internationally to a test group of students and educators. Eighty percent of the students and 100% of the educators involved preferred the digital method. (More standardized testing stories.)

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