In January, College Board announced that the SAT would officially go digital! Starting in spring of 2024, all students will transition over to the new digital SAT. Piloted in November 2021, the initial reactions to the digital SAT have been overwhelmingly positive; approximately 80% of students reported that it felt less stressful and 100% of educators said they had a positive experience.
It’s important to note that College Board has not released all relevant information about this change yet. They have announced that they will provide more information on, timing, sections, scoring information, number of questions, and will share sample questions this summer.
What could this mean for students and college admissions? Read on to find out what we know so far.
What’s Staying the Same
The contents of the SAT itself will largely remain the same and will continue to be scored on a 1600 scale. The tests will continue to be administered by proctors in test centers and schools, meaning that students will not be able to take them at home.
The SAT will be shorter, taking about two hours to complete, giving students more time per question.
Furthermore, the Critical Reading section has been thoroughly revamped. Although the full details haven’t been released yet, we know that the passages will be shorter with only one question per passage.
Overall, questions will be more straight-forward. For the math section, word problems will be more concise. Moreover, calculators will be allowed on the entire Math section, though the content itself won’t change much.
Finally, students are able to use their own laptops or tablets or a school issued or College Board provided device.
What is Adaptive Learning?
Adaptive learning uses technology to personalize education. On the digital SAT, each subject will have two different sections called modules. An algorithm will customize the difficulty level of the second module depending on how a student scores on the introductory module. If a student performs highly on the first module, the second will be harder and vice versa. This means that each test will be uniquely tailored to each student’s skill level which will enable the test to assess the student’s ability efficiently, accurately, and more quickly.
What are the Benefits of these Changes?
Students will get their scores back in days, instead of weeks.
The SAT will be more secure since going digital allows every student a unique test form which makes it practically impossible to share answers.
Furthermore, digital score reports will now connect students to relevant information and resources such as two-year colleges, careers, and workforce training programs that are pertinent to their achievements, interests, and financial goals.
What are the Possible Cons?
College Board expects students to bring fully charged laptops with the relevant testing application pre-downloaded. However, if students forget to charge their devices or have poor battery life, Test Centers are not responsible for providing a power source, though they may choose to do so if it can be done in an equitable and non-disruptive
manner. Students with time accommodations are the exception as Test Centers are then required to provide a power source for them.
Although students are able to request the use of College Board provided devices, they must do this ahead of time. Should a student show up without a device without having requested one beforehand, they will be instructed to reschedule for another date.
What does this mean for you?
Students who have access to both versions of the test as options should choose the existing version as colleges have more data to support those scores.
As for preparing for the new digital SAT, students will be able to access the Official SAT Practice starting in fall of 2022 on Khan Academy, which will include the digital SAT practice material. Full-length adaptive practice tests will also be made available at that time to allow students to become comfortable with the digital format. Again, more information about practice resources will be announced this summer.