Throw Out Your Papers and Pencils, the SAT is going digital in 2024

By: Nafisa Anjum

Say farewell to No. 2 pencils and bubble sheets; the SAT is now going completely digital. On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the College Board announced new changes to the SAT Suite of Assessments that would be in effect internationally by 2023 and in the United States by 2024. Among the main changes includes that the tests will now be taken on a laptop or tablet at a testing center for two hours.

Adjusting the test to meet students’ needs and wants, the new test is catered to be easier to take, administer, and sit through. Priscilla Rodriguez, the vice president of the College Readiness Assessments at College Board, wanted the SAT to be a way for students to show their strengths.

“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,” said Rodriguez in a recent news article from the College Board.

In an attempt to reflect works read by college students, the digital SAT will have a shorter and more diverse range of passages, saving more time for students during the exam. The math section will be changing as well, with the calculator allowed the entire way through. Instead of waiting on results for weeks, students and educators can now expect scores back within days. 

Having a history with only paper copies of the test, students have mixed feelings about the new changes. Mt. Hebron sophomore Alice Pan feels this way. Reflecting on her experiences with the PSAT last fall, she believes that compared to the paper version, it would be easier to sit through a digital SAT.

“It was hard to stay focused all the way through [the PSAT and its long passages] and the fact that it is going digital means it will be shorter and would be easier for me to focus,” says Pan. 

However, not everyone feels the same way about a digital exam. Mt. Hebron freshman Tanvi Kanaparthi is happy to hear the calculator will be given for the entire math portion but feels uneasy about it going digital.

“I find it hard to process words after reading them on a screen for long periods of time, so this is definitely a disadvantage for me. I am worried that I will blank out and struggle during the reading section, even though that is the section I scored higher in,” says Kanaparthi. 

When looking at the downsides that come with the test going online, having to adjust to the digital format seems to be the biggest concern for students.

“Some people are not good with technology and have practiced just on paper,” notes Pan. 

Other concerns between students are the short breaks and what the SAT will mean for the future. 

“I just don’t think 5 minutes will be enough for my eyes to calm down and heal from looking at computer screens for so long,” says Kanaparthi.

Kanaparthi relates this to the summer before she splurged on practice books and paper copies of old SATs to prepare for the real one.

Despite all their concerns, the students interviewed are satisfied with the new adjustments to the test and feel slightly more confident for their big days. 

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