College Board announces changes to SAT

The+SAT+is+undergoing+changes+that+will+come+into+effect+by+2024.+These+changes+include+shortening+the+test+and+moving+from+paper+to+digital.

Sophia Bassi

The SAT is undergoing changes that will come into effect by 2024. These changes include shortening the test and moving from paper to digital.

Sophia Bassi, Staff Writer

Changes to the SAT test will come into effect in 2023 for international students and in 2024 for students in the U.S., College Board announced Jan. 25. 

Among these changes include switching the test from paper to computer-based and reducing the test from three hours to two hours of testing time, per College Board. The new online format means that although tests will still be proctored, educators will not need to distribute as many test materials. In addition, there will be more flexibility for test dates, and students’ test scores will be received in days instead of weeks.

Evelyn Snizek (’23), who has taken the SAT on paper, said she predicts the shorter testing duration will have a positive impact on students as, from her own experience, it is challenging to maintain focus for the current three-hour duration.

“It is very difficult for people to sit for three hours and do this test,” she said. “Some in SLD are taking the test for five hours because of extra time, which is an insane amount of time to do a test.”

Meanwhile, Danielle Hajjar (’23), who has taken the SAT on paper, said she finds it challenging to focus on a screen for a prolonged period as her “eyes get really tired and it doesn’t work well.”

It is very difficult for people to sit for three hours and do this test. Some in SLD are taking the test for five hours because of extra time, which is an insane amount of time to do a test.”

— Evelyn Snizek ('23)

Likewise, Snizek said she thinks she would prefer taking the test on paper instead of online because “it’s nice to have paper to highlight or underline” – a privilege that students will not have with the online format.

Moreover, according to College Board, the reading section of the SAT will contain shorter passages. Students will also be able to use their calculators throughout the entire math section, a change from the current format which includes a non-calculator section.

Amrita D’Souza (’23), who is currently preparing to take the SAT, said she finds the reading section to be tiring. Hence, she said this new format will allow students to read the passages without losing focus.

“It’s my least favorite section because it’s very mentally exhausting,” she said. “It’s also the first section, so by the time you’re done with that, you already don’t feel like doing anymore.”

In addition, D’Souza said it will not make a difference whether students are permitted to use calculators throughout the test.

“The non-calculator sections barely ever require you to use mental math, and a lot of the questions on the calculator section can easily be done [without a calculator],” she said. “Right now, I don’t really see why there’s two separate sections.”

While Hajjar would ultimately prefer to take the test on paper, she said moving the test online will ensure it is accessible to people around the world.

Amid the changes being made to the SAT, many universities currently do not require standardized test scores. According to Smithsonian Magazine, multiple colleges across the U.S. have become test-optional due to pandemic-induced cancellations and the socioeconomic inequalities highlighted through standardized tests.

However, according to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, the digitalization of the SAT will not necessarily ensure that test scores will fairly assess a student’s full capability.

I like that universities are going test-optional because you could present a different point of data about something you’ve done successfully.”

— Danielle Hajjar ('23)

Overall, Hajjar said she is in favor of the universities’ decision to be test-optional as students have the opportunity to showcase different achievements other than test scores. She said there are many factors that could hinder a student’s ability to perform their best on the SAT or ACT.

“They might know the material, but when they actually have to take the tests, they might perform differently than their knowledge,” she said. “I like that universities are going test-optional because you could present a different point of data about something you’ve done successfully.”

Additionally, Snizek said lower income students do not have the same access to preparation materials in comparison to higher income students, which can easily inhibit their performance on standardized tests.

With the socioeconomic inequities that are highlighted through standardized testing, Snizek said the trend of universities moving test-optional is positive as test scores do not hold as much importance in one’s application.

“It’s a nice way to include everyone and set a baseline that if you don’t do well on this one SAT, that shouldn’t predict the rest of your life,” she said. “That shouldn’t predict where you go to school just because you didn’t do well on one standardized test.”