The SAT Is Going Digital and Getting Shorter: 'The Best Possible Option for Students'

·3 min read
SAT test
SAT test

Tetra/Getty

The famed SAT exam taken by thousands of prospective college students each year is getting a modern makeover.

On Tuesday, the College Board announced the test will be delivered digitally starting in 2024 and will be shortened from three hours to two hours. The changes also mean students will get scores back much sooner, with a wait time of days instead of weeks.

"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 a statement. "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," Rodriguez added.

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The organization said a November trial run of the digital SAT received overwhelmingly positive feedback: 80 percent of both U.S. and international students said the test was less stressful, and 100 percent of educators said the experience was favorable.

"In a largely test-optional world, the SAT is a lower-stakes test in college admissions," Rodriguez said. "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."

U.C. Berkeley campus
U.C. Berkeley campus

Justin Sullivan/Getty UC Berkeley

The decision to modernize the test comes after some universities, including the University of California system, have decided to drop the test from their application requirements altogether.

UC made the change following a 2019 lawsuit, which argued that the college entrance exams disadvantage low-income students of color and those with disabilities, according to the New York Times.

Harvard University also announced in December it is dropping its SAT requirement, citing difficulties providing the test during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Students who do not submit standardized test scores will not be disadvantaged in their application process," William Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions and financial aid, said in a statement at the time.

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According to the College Board, the revised SAT will feature shorter reading passages that "reflect a wider range of topics that represent the works students read in college." Additionally, students will be allowed to use a calculator during the entire math portion of the test.

"It felt a lot less stressful, and whole lot quicker than I thought it'd be," 11th-grade student Natalia Cossio, who participated in the pilot program, said in the College Board's announcement.

Cossio added: "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."

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