SAT tests go digital starting 2024

Nidhi Nair, Features Editor

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, commonly known as the SAT, is a well-known assessment that millions of nationwide high school students take every 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 a common data point that can be used to compare all applicants.” 

Over the years, the SAT has been altered and changed many times by the College Board. Since 2010 to present, the SAT format has included a maximum score of 1600, a three hour length of time, multiple choice questions and a free response math section. The test was taken on pencil and paper.

On January 25, 2022, the College Board announced that starting in 2024, the SAT will be reformatted to be entirely digital, shortened in length from three hours to two, and “include shorter reading passages and allow students to use a calculator on [all] math sections,” as stated by NPR.

“The College Board is trying to retool the exam that has stressed out millions of students in the face of questions about whether college admissions tests are fair, or even necessary,” the New York Times said. “In pilot runs that were conducted last year, 80 percent of students said they found the digital tests less stressful, according to the College Board, which said laptops or tablets would be provided for students who need them.”

The digital format for the SAT aims to be less harsh on students’ mental health, and there are also several benefits to the transition. A digital assessment would prevent certain issues from occurring within the test, such as “students bringing mechanical pencils instead of the required No. 2 variety, or advanced calculators that are not allowed,” said CBS News.

Additionally, the Washington Post states that the new test “scores will be returned within days of taking the test, instead of weeks. For students, one of the biggest changes will be that they won’t need to bring sharpened No. 2 pencils or erasers to the test. They won’t have to worry anymore about losing points because of stray pencil marks or improperly filled bubbles on their answer sheet.”

Students of LOHS who have already taken the SAT and PSAT such as Senior Erin Kelly spoke about the changes. “I don’t think it will make much of a difference switching to digital. I guess it might be a little different on the math section because you will have a calculator for all of it, but besides that, it will probably just be a similar test online.”

Sophomore Brody McFadden said, “Personally, I’d prefer taking the SAT digitally rather than taking it on paper. Ethically speaking, switching to a digital version would significantly reduce the amount of paper waste accumulated through the many tests taken. A single paper version of the SAT uses around 50 pieces of paper, and when this number is multiplied by every copy distributed to the thousands of annual test takers, you can see just how much paper is actually wasted. The digital version is also much easier to maneuver. It makes going back and forth between passages and questions much less time consuming and stressful.”

McFadden additionally noted on his personal experiences of taking the PSAT digitally. “After taking the PSAT, I can’t help but support the College Board’s decisions to make the SAT digital. The test was easier to see and I used different computer features like the zoom tool to expand certain questions. This tactic personally helped me focus on certain parts of the readings over others, and generally helped me read through the passages easier. I felt a better sense of organization having my test on an easy to read and scroll through format. I wasn’t stressed trying to endlessly flip back and forth through pages, trying to find previous points in a passage or different questions. The whole process seemed to save me time, which is especially valuable when it comes to taking this test.” The new format of the SAT will officially be put to the test starting 2024.