The Scholastic Aptitude Test, more commonly known as the SAT, may be the most well known standardized test among high schoolers – famous for its stressful deadlines and rush to finish filling in tiny bubbles. Though it has been associated with pencil and paper for many years, the test will soon pivot to become entirely digital.
Beginning in 2024 for students in the US, the SAT will undergo many changes. These changes include switching to an entirely digital format, shrinking the timeline from three hours to two, and allowing students to use a calculator on the entire math portion of the test.
Though the College Board, the organization that develops and administers the SAT and other standardized tests, previously planned to offer an at-home digital SAT, their plans were quickly scrapped due to concern about students having access to the internet during the duration of the test. Now students must take the test at a test center or at a school. Additionally, students will be able to choose between using their own device such as a laptop or the school’s device.
Over the past few years, the SAT’s role in the college admissions process has been on the decline. More than 1800 colleges and universities are not requiring a SAT or ACT score for students applying for classes in the fall of 2022. The University of California school system has permanently removed the SAT and ACT from their admissions process.
Though this big pivot in the SAT is making headlines, it’s not the first time the SAT has undergone major changes. First in 2014, the College Board made the essay portion of the test optional, removed the obscure vocabulary section, and removed the “wrong answer penalty” which deducted a quarter point for each wrong answer and discouraged guessing. Now, you cannot be penalized for wrong answers though they don’t improve your score either. The SAT then went through major changes again in 2021 with the announcement of the discontinuation of the essay portion as well as the SAT subject tests for US history, math, and more.
St. John’s Associate Director of College Counseling, Mr. Joseph Krzysko says that while the move to an online format is a major change to the SAT, he doesn’t believe it will pose a large change for students taking the test because students will still be required to go into a testing center. Krzysko also said that he does believe the SAT is fading in relevance as a part of the college application process as more and more schools become test optional or remove standardized tests permanently from their application process.
The changes that are coming to the SAT are said to help benefit students who are taking the test and have been made to adapt to the needs of students. Though many changes have been made and continue to be made to the SAT, they have all been built around students’ needs and an attempt to keep the test a relevant part of the college admissions process.