SAT college admissions exam, no longer required by many schools, to go digital

FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 tested many students’ mental health; some U.S. schools are taking action
A girl works during study hall at Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Reuters file

By Brendan O’Brien

High school students will use laptops rather than pencils and paper to take the SAT college admissions exam beginning in 2024, in a move to digitize the standardized test whose use has declined during the pandemic and as many universities no longer require it for admission.

Students who take the new digitized SAT — once a stress-inducing rite of passage for nearly all college-bound Americans — will have two instead of three hours to answer questions and will face shorter reading passages, the College Board said in a statement on Tuesday. Test-takers may also use a calculator for the math portion to the exam.

“The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, a vice president at the nonprofit organization that develops the test. “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.”

For decades, high school students applying to college would sit in rooms with other test takers and a monitor, and use a pencil to fill in bubbles on a piece of paper corresponding to their answers on the multiple-choice test. The exam is made up of a math and a reading and writing sections and is scored on a 1,600 score scale.

In November 2021, College Board conducted a pilot program for a digital SAT in the United States and other countries. Four out of every five test takers said they found the digital version less stressful.

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