The SAT is officially a digital test, according to an announcement from the College Board on Tuesday.
The standardized exam—which must be completed on laptops or tablets at testing centers—can not be taken at home. The College Board scrapped plans to offer an at-home version, so students are still required to travel to testing centers to take the SAT. However, the SAT will be reduced in length from three hours to two hours. Scores will also be available within days, rather than weeks.
As more than 1,815 schools have gone test-optional this past year, with schools like the University of California system and Pitzer College going test-blind altogether, this move is designed to increase the popularity of the SAT.
“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board. “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform. We’re taking full advantage of what delivering a digital assessment makes possible.”
The College Board also announced that calculators will be allowed on the entire math section. The current version of the SAT reading section requires students to read passages and answer multiple questions about each passage. In the redesigned version, the reading passages will be shorter, covering a larger variety of topics, and students will have to answer just one question per shorter reading passage.
These changes also hope to make the test less stressful for students; according to the College Board, 80% of students who took the new digital test found it less stressful than the traditional paper version.
Christal Wang, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, was part of the pilot program that took the digital and pencil test last year. “I definitely preferred [the] format with the shorter passages, just because it was a lot easier to read and easier to stay focused,” Wang said. “I also felt less drained at the end.”
According to Moon Prep Counselor and SAT/ACT Tutor, Lindsey Conger, this change could help the test be more accessible to students. “We aren’t going to see the SAT completely go away anytime soon—having a strong SAT or ACT score can still help distinguish you from other competitive applicants.” And while many schools have gone test-optional, she reiterates that many specialized programs, like direct medical programs, still require you to submit an SAT or ACT score.
In attempts to address inequities, the College Board announced that students could either use their own device or a school-issued device. If they don’t have access to a device, the College Board will provide one. In addition, the College Board has taken steps to ensure that technical difficulties won’t hinder a student’s ability to perform well on test day. The digital test will save their work and ensure they won’t lose time if a student loses connectivity or power.
With these changes, the test will be easier for educators to administer. This could mean upcoming changes on when, where and how often the test is administered. It also might mean more tests can be administered during the school day, which has shown to lead to higher college-going rates for lower-income students.
The changes will take effect in 2024 in the United States and in 2023 in other countries. The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 will transfer to digital in 2023 and the PSAT 10 in 2024.