New SAT: How Will the Digital Test Impact Students?

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Put away your sharpened No. 2 pencils, test-takers. A major shift is coming to the SAT. The new SAT will be shorter, redesigned, and entirely digital. 

“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” Priscilla Rodriguez, vice president of College Readiness Assessments at College Board, said in this company news release. “We’re not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform— we’re taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible. With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs.” 

When will the digital SAT debut?

The new test will impact current freshmen (class of 2025) and students in every class after that!

Here is the College Board’s timeline for rolling out the new version of the test:

  • International students will start taking the digital SAT in the Spring of 2023. 
  • The digital PSAT will then debut in the Fall of 2023 for students everywhere.  
  • US-based students will start taking the all-new SAT in the Spring of 2024

The College Board recently invited some Virginia high schoolers to take a pilot version of the digital SAT, including 11th-grade student Natalia Cossio in Fairfax County. 

“It felt a lot less stressful, and a whole lot quicker than I thought it’d be,” Cossio said in a College Board news release. 

How will the new test fit in the changing college admissions process? 

Many colleges turned test-optional before the pandemic and the list has grown substantially since 2020. As the test-optional trend continues, many students are still opting to take college entrance exams in hopes of increasing their chances of admission. 

The new test is designed to serve as a more relevant option as the landscape of college admissions shifts, according to officials at the College Board. 

“In a largely test-optional world, the SAT is a lower-stakes test in college admissions. Submitting a score is optional for every type of college. And we want the SAT to be the best possible option for students. The SAT allows every student—regardless of where they go to high school—to be seen and to access opportunities that will shape their lives and careers,” Rodriguez said in the news release. 

What will stay the same on the new version of the SAT?

Many features of the SAT will remain the same when the test moves to a digital format. 

  • Scores will stay on a 1600 scale
  • Exams will still be proctored and taken in a school or test center (not at home). 
  • Eligible students can still receive accommodations
  • And the test will continue to measure what the College Board calls “knowledge and skills that students are learning in school and that matter most for college and career readiness.” 

What will be different on the new digital test? 

Since the test will be digital, it will be offered more frequently. Officials at the College Board say it will also be more secure with a unique digital test generated for each student to better prevent cheating. Here are some of the other changes:

  • Students can take the test on a personal laptop or tablet, school-issued device, or one that’s provided on test day. 
  • The new SAT will take two hours instead of three, with more time per question. 
  • The digital test will feature shorter reading passages with one question tied to each. 
  • Students will get their scores days after the test, instead of weeks later.
  • Students can use calculators on the entire math section

Cossio liked the changes she saw on the pilot version of the digital SAT. 

“The shorter passages helped me concentrate more on what the question wanted me to do. Plus, you don’t have to remember to bring a calculator or a pencil,” Cossio said in the news release.

Should my child still plan to take college entrance exams?

The College Board reports that 1.5 million students in the Class of 2021 took the SAT, compared to 2.2 million in the Class of 2020.  
 
At Educational Connections, we recommend all college-bound students should prepare for and take the SAT or ACT to increase their chances of admission, even if they plan to only apply to test-optional schools. 

Click below to talk with one of our education experts about ways our test prep tutors can help your child.