The new SAT will be shorter, fully online and will allow calculators: NPR

SAT test

The SAT, a college entrance exam long associated with paper and pencil, will soon go all-digital.

Starting in 2023 for international students and 2024 in the United States, the new digital SAT will drop from three hours to two, include shorter reading passages, and allow students to use a calculator in the math section.

Testing will still take place at a test center or at a school, but students will be able to choose between using their own devices — including a tablet or laptop — or the schools’ devices.

“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez of the College Board, the organization behind the test.

“With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their ever-changing needs.”

The College Board previously scrapped plans to offer a digital home test over concerns students could access three hours of uninterrupted internet and electricity. Broadband access for students has been a constant struggle throughout the pandemic, especially in rural and low-income areas. The new SAT will be designed to save automatically, so students won’t lose work or time while they reconnect.

This all comes as the relevance of the SAT and ACT, another college entrance exam, is questioned in the college admissions process. According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, more than 1,800 US colleges do not require a test score for students wishing to enroll in fall 2022. At least 1,400 of these schools have extended their policies of testing until at least fall 2023. The University of California system, one of the largest in the nation, permanently removed testing from its admissions process in November, after a long debate. and a trial.

Yet the SAT and ACT are deeply rooted in the experience of American high schools. More than a dozen states require one of the exams to graduate, and before the pandemic, 10 states and Washington, D.C., had contracts with the College Board to offer the test free during the school day to their students. .

As the college admissions process grabs headlines and the Supreme Court agrees to review the use of affirmative action in admissions, the College Board argues that the SAT plays “a vital role in holistic admissions”.

And while many colleges make the test optional, some students see value in it.

“[The test] certainly doesn’t offer the full profile of a student, it’s not like the missing piece,” says Kirsten Amematsro, a junior from Potomac High School in Dumfries, Virginia. “But it can improve your candidacy. It kind of shows what you can accomplish in your testing ability.”

Amematsro started thinking about her way to college — and taking the SAT — in sixth grade. When she got to high school, her mom bought her a college-prepared to-do list poster that hangs in her bedroom.

“I know it’s going to be an essential element when I apply [to college]she says. She thinks that with so many universities offering optional tests, having a good SAT will be “icing on the cake” of her application.

Last fall Amematsro took a pilot version of the new digital SAT.

“It was easier,” she says. “Honestly, it’s not as easy for me to focus on paper as it is on the computer.”

She used her own laptop to take it, which was comfortable and familiar.

“I just feel like it’s easier for our generation because we’re so used to using technology.”

Before this new digital format, the SAT had already undergone several changes. In 2014, the College Board revealed that it would drop its wrong-answer penalty policy, make the essay portion optional, and remove the obscure vocabulary section. And in early 2021, the organization announced it would scrap the optional essay component of the SAT, as well as subject tests in US history, languages, and math, among other subjects.

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