The days of high school juniors and seniors waking up early on a Saturday morning to take the 3-hour and 45-minute SAT will soon be coming to an end. In June of 2022, the College Board announced the rollout of a new, digital SAT, one that is shorter, with results received in days rather than weeks.
The College Board has been piloting this since June of 2022 and results are promising. Over 80% of students preferred the digital SAT over the paper and pencil version and reported really liking the streamlined Reading and Math sections. They also loved that they received their results in days instead of waiting weeks.
As someone who remembers not too long ago when students, who’d prepared and studied, couldn’t take the SAT at a school because of COVID restrictions, I am skeptical of anything that is predicted to be the ‘next great thing’.
Here are some facts I learned about this new digital test:
- The Class of 2025, this year’s freshman, will be the first class to take both the PSAT and the SAT in the new digital format. The ACT is staying the same.
- National testing dates will remain unchanged for now.
- Students will take the test at school as this is not considered an at-home test.
- Students may use their own laptops, iPads, school-owned desktops and laptops, and school-owned Chromebooks.
- The College Board is still exploring how much it will charge for the digital version.
- All students will take the test in the following order: Reading and Writing, stage 1, Reading and Writing, stage 2, BREAK, Math, stage 1, Math stage 2
- The digital version is adaptive, thus making it a much shorter assessment, at two hours and 14 minutes.
- The app downloads three sets of reading and math questions to the testing device, once a student connects to the app.
- There are two stages of Reading and two stages of Math questions.
- This assessment is stage-adaptive, which means that the student’s answers from the first stage of reading and math will determine the appropriate level of difficulty for the next set of questions.
- Questions are grouped by type, i.e., all the words-in-context questions will be together, followed by grammar questions. The College Board stated that by doing this ‘it allows students to learn the question types and move through the test with a coherent problem-solving mindset.
In reading all I could about this new test, I am cautiously optimistic. I do have a few concerns, though, but am hopeful that the College Board can work out anything that is perceived as unfair to students before anyone ever sees the test.
Some of my concerns are:
- A student’s performance on the first section of either Reading or Math will determine whether they advance to an easier or harder adaptive section. In order to move on to a harder section, students would need to answer roughly 2/3 of the items correctly in the first section. For students who advance to the easier section, the maximum score they can receive on each subtest is 650, as opposed to a score of 800 if they advance to the harder section. The College Board is reviewing this feature and may make adaptations before it goes live.
- Also, because of the adaptive nature of the test, a student’s score report will go away, which means they won’t have access to the # and kinds of problems they got wrong. Students won’t have any idea how their score was determined. I have found the score report to be a useful study tool for the student in guiding them in what questions to study before they take the test again. It’s a shame it is going away.
I’m sure there will be much more information about this change in the new year. I will continue to update you as I learn more about this new digital assessment.
If you have questions about your child and testing as it relates to college admissions, please reach out. I’m happy to spend a little time helping you understand how the 2023 changes will impact your child’s admissions process and chances of success at the universities of their choice.